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aBout tHE coMPass EDITOR Jennifer Raynes ExECUTIvE DESIGN Adam Adams - www.DifferDesigns.com CONTRIBUTORS Adam Adams, Jennifer Raynes, Heidi, Jane Daly, Jessica Stoner, Eric Stoner, Matt Newton, PC Walker, Jim Meyers, Heather Meyers, Matt Tory, Dan DeMuri, Fred Hammer, Glenda Harr, Jayne Williams, Sarah King, Ty Lewis, Melinda Lewis, Jennie Nagy, Lois Heath, Brian Webber, Nicole Macha, David Bagwell and Heather Bagwell PHOTOGRAPHY Will Race, Lauren Bryant Jenkins

FroM Pastor jEssE I’m excited about this issue of the COMPASS! In this edition we have focused most of the articles and interviews around the theme of seeking first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Putting God and His plans first in our lives is a nice ideal to reach for, but the reality is that there are so many things in life that get in the way. We’re all terribly busy, we’re constantly bombarded with conflicting messages from our culture, and when it comes to spiritual things we tend to suffer from a short-attention span.

THE COMPASS IS A PUBLICATION OF

First Covenant Church of Sacramento 10933 Progress Court Rancho Cordova, CA 95670 916.861.2240 • www.firstcov.org

contEnts

FeaTuRed 3 • Too busy to listen 5 • Something to talk about 8 • Surprise! This is the Gospel 11 • Don't waste your retirement 12 • Reviews 14 • 10 Strategies to screw up your life 16 • What is SOLAS? 20 • The high cost of love 22 • Living the abundant life 28 • How much is enough 29 • Living the American dream in south east Asia 30 • Seeking first = changing the way I pray 32 • To do or not to do 33 • Crooked back on the straight path 34 • Stirring up stewardship in our kids 35 • Retreating into you InFORmaTIOn 6 • Upcoming Events 26 • Fall equipping classes COlumnS 4 • MTS: Brian Webber 13 • Faith cubed 17 • Lost in translation 19 • Beyond the guitar 21 • MTS: Lois Heath 31 • MAE: Scott Waldron

JESSE SMITH

SENIOR PASTOR

My prayer is that in the following pages you will find some help in seeking first the kingdom of God. As you read about real people, people in our church family, that are intentionally trying to prioritize life in a way that makes more room for Jesus, I hope that something will speak to you and that you’ll take at least one significant step forward in your journey with Christ.

If you are new to our church, I want to say, “Welcome!” The COMPASS can help you learn more about our church and ways you can get plugged into this imperfect but loving community we call First Cov. We know that there are a lot of ways to grow spiritually and that every church develops its own unique process. Here at First Cov we have designed a simple strategy that we call the Path. We’re not saying this is the only way to become a fully devoted follower of Christ, but we do think that this works 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 group gatherings of people in your neighborhood who support each other through study of the Bible and prayer, and who challenge each other to serve 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 the COMPASS can be a useful tool to guide you on the Path. I hope you’ll join us as we seek His kingdom together.

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 compass@firstcov.org.

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.

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

COMPASS Magazine is First Cov's 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.

ExECUTIvE EDITOR Mark Shetler


____________________ Too Busy to Listen? ____________________ By Glenda Harr

Hosting a dinner party for important people whom you’d like to impress is stressful, to say the least. But, what if the person you were trying to impress was even more important than your boss or in-laws? Imagine, preparing dinner for the Son of God! Whoa! Luke 10:38-42 tells a story of two women, a dinner party, and choices they had to make. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were good friends with Jesus. Jesus—probably the most famous rabbi in the land—visited their home in Bethany often. He was a treasured friend and an honored guest. An earlier account tells us how deep the friendship was between Jesus and this brother and two sisters. There was much to do to make the occasion run smoothly, but Mary was not much help. Martha became disturbed by her sister’s inactivity as she prepared the food and served this very important person almost single-handedly. Martha had the opportunity to create a special memory that everyone could cherish, but she allowed it to become a day of worry and anxiety. She went to Jesus to vent her frustrations: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Ever patient, Jesus

gently replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” How could that be? How would they eat and spend the day in a pleasant environment if someone didn’t do the work behind the scenes? Really! How could this possibly be fair to have one woman doing all the work! We have all heard the story of Mary and Martha many times. It is so so ordinary, so common—a scene that we can all relate to. We take our eyes off of the primary reason we serve (Jesus himself), and inevitably find ourselves needing to be rescued from the burden of that labor. “But what is so wrong about being a Martha?” you might ask. Nothing! Our churches,

"We have a choice. It is not a choice between bad and good, serving or not serving, but between what is good and what is the best." offices, homes, and schools couldn’t survive without go-getters and organizers like Martha. There is nothing wrong with being a responsible and action-oriented person. Jesus did not fault Martha for being responsible. Martha’s mistake was that she was too busy to listen. Too distracted to sit at his feet. Too busy living life. Too involved with her activities that she didn’t find the time to listen to the voice of God–our most important priority of all! Remember what Jesus said? Only one thing is needed.

Through this story of Mary and Martha, Jesus reminds us that listening precedes action. God’s Word clearly says to be hearers and doers, but not doers then hearers. It is a subtle trick that we become so active in doing good things, that our activities become a cover-up for our lack of listening. Martha had a choice. We have a choice. It is not a choice between bad and good, serving or not serving, but between what is good and what is the best. Jesus wasn’t ignoring Martha’s role, he simply wanted to point out that while what Martha was doing was essential, Mary was doing what was eternal. Let us not let the essential drown out the eternal! People person, avid reader and lover of the outdoors, Glenda Harr has served as First Cov’s Director of Counseling and Women’s Ministries for the last 8 ½ years. Fueled by variety and the ability to take a creative approach to all her projects, Glenda is passionate about building relationships and connecting with people. She does this at First Cov primarily through her ministry to women, the lay counseling ministry, and the connections created through the SHAPE class. gharr@firstcov.org

WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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BRIAN WEBBER

years. I was a part time tech person starting in 2003 and I joined full time in October of 2010. Birthday:

July 6, 1978 Family:

Most people know my wife Renee—more than they know me. She and her family have been going here since she was a baby. She was the Mexicali intern for several years and is one of the coordinators for Moms Connection. She also sings for Modern services once a month. My son Aiden (7) loves Legos, baseball and soccer. My daughter Calla (5) has been in the dance ministry here for 3 years and loves to sing.

company which sends me out to all kinds of different shows. One week I’ll be at a Democrat convention and the next week I’ll be at a smooth jazz concert. I get to see some really good concerts and work with some great people. I love technology and love working with computers – I get sent to fix a lot of friends’ computers in my spare time. I also had a great time this past year being an assistant coach for my son’s baseball team. Favorite place to eat:

Mikuni. I love sushi from most places (even Costco) but Mikuni is the best. It costs a lot to eat there so when I go it is definitely a special treat! Last movie you watched:

MEET THE STAFF

Favorite scripture:

Role at First Cov:

I am the technical director, which means that I oversee all things technical including: audio, lights, and multi-media for worship services and classes throughout the week. I’m the person that you don’t realize exists until something goes wrong—a microphone doesn’t get turned on in time, wrong lyrics on the screen, the sound is too loud, lights in your eyes. Yep, that’s me.

Childhood hero:

I have been going to First Cov since I was in 5th grade, around 24 years ago at the La Riviera campus. My parents were going through a divorce and a wonderful woman named Joan Buzzard brought my mom and I here for church. I volunteered to join the tech team when I was 14.

When I was young, I had a terrible crime committed against me. The officer who took my report was very kind and understanding. When they caught the person who committed the crime, that same officer came and got me to ID him. That officer and all police in general became my heroes that day. They tirelessly serve the community and protect the rights of the innocent. I’ll never forget that officer.

Joined staff:

Favorite pastimes/hobbies:

First set foot on First Cov:

The first time I joined the staff was when I was 16 as the night lockup person, and then was a tech intern during my college

Release Your Inner Storyteller Okay, here’s the thing: Despite the fact that we (the COMPASS bigwigs) work here at the ministry establishment otherwise known as First Cov, we have absolutely no qualms admitting that some really silly things happen at church. Just like anywhere else in life, there are copious amounts of memorably hilarious moments that have been witnessed in the house of God. Now, WE could tell you a few funny stories from our experience, but we would much rather give YOU the chance to share your

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John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing.” NIV. I know that without Jesus in my life, I would not be the person that I am today. So much of my life I try to do what I want, and this verse reminds me that without Him, I am nothing. It is not until I let go and give Him full control that I will thrive.

The last movie I saw was “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” at $5 movie day at the Palladio. I don’t go to movies very often because I feel like it is overpriced. $5 movie day is great because even if the movie is terrible, you don’t regret spending too much on it. Where do you want to visit:

My wife and I both have always wanted to tour Europe: Greece, Italy, France. I have some older friends who say it is better to go when you are younger. The only problem is that you usually don’t have the money to do it when you are that age! I love to watch shows that feature that part of the world. I love looking at old architecture and am amazed at the buildings that are still standing after 500 or so years. At Starbucks:

Grande iced coffee, sweetened, breve (fancy word for half and half). Again with the cheap theme, iced coffee is cheaper than an iced latte and tastes just as good!

I don’t know if I’d call it a hobby or not but I do freelance work for a local audio

gut-busting tale. Yes, you read that right— that story that has only previously been in the spotlight at parties (over and over again, no doubt), now has the opportunity to be seen by thousands in print. We think that’s pretty cool… We’ll read over the submissions at one of our super fun editor’s meetings and see which one makes us laugh the hardest. If that’s you, you’ll win! Absolutely nothing, mind you, apart from the fame of having your pretty picture printed in the most amazing publication ever. (Yeah, we said it. Not gonna lie, our little COMPASS crew takes our fun seriously around here. This is your chance to get in on the good times!).

What is the funniest thing you’ve ever witnessed in a church service? (In any church, anywhere!) Send your hilarious church story (in 200 words or less) to Jen at jraynes@firstcov.org by September 15.


“My limbs work, so I’m not going to complain about the way my body is shaped.” -Drew Barrymore

“The only rule is don’t be boring and dress cute wherever you go.” -Paris Hilton

“I don’t regret anythi ng I ever do or say. don’t like to live my I life being censored . I like to say what I feel.”

t the key to success, bu “I don’t know the erybody.” trying to please ev

key to failure is -Bill Cosby

-Eva Longoria

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” -Michael J. Fox

el es you fe alking k a m e w “Fam ke a girl li ly t n e n orkers.” itt perma w n io t c stru -Brad P past con

“There doesn’t need to be a God for me. There’s something in people that’s spiritual, that’s godlike. I don’t feel like doing things just because people say things, but I also don’t really know if it’s better to just not believe in anything, either.” -Angelina Jolie

“YOU’VE GOT ENEMIES? GOOD, THAT MEANS YOU STOOD UP FOR SOMETHING IN YOUR LIFE.” -Eminem

“I love you but you aren’t worth the fight anymore.” -Drake WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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events

upcoming

August19

Growth Groups – Fall Trimester Begins All Ages Meetings – Various Times Growth groups are an incredible opportunity for spiritual growth. Get connected with a spiritual family here at First Cov by attending one of our weekly small groups. Groups meet on various days at various times all over the Sacramento area. Call Suzanne in the church office for more information about how to get plugged in!

August21

Dance Auditions for Christmas Season Age 10 to Adult 6:00 - 8:00 PM • Rehearsal Room Open auditions for the Christmas Mall and Christmas Around the World Festival dance teams for dancers Level 2 and above. Dancers under 10 or in level 1 and under are also invited to participate, but do not need to audition. For more information contact Carolyn Melville at cmelville@ firstcov.org

August21

Grief Share Adults August 21 - October 30 6:30 – 8:00 PM Grief Share is a place to find support, hope and healing if you have lost someone close to you. It is also a place where you can be around others who understand how you feel. Meetings take place weekly, off-site. Call Jennifer in the church office for location and more information.

August22

Divorce Care All adults August 22 – October 31 7:00 – 8:30 PM Divorce Care is a support group for people who are going through separation or divorce. You will experience support through materials full of wisdom to help you navigate these scary times. Meetings take place weekly, off-site. Call Jennifer in the church office for location and more information.

August26

Chosen Ones Pizza Lunch Families who are/are considering fostering or adopting 12:45 PM • Room 200/202 If you are a family who has adopted, is fostering or is considering fostering/adoption, please come to our monthly fourth Sunday get together. Bring your family as we get to meet and encourage one another in the journey on which God is taking our families. Cost is $5 per family.

August28

Mosaic Fall Kick-Off Brunch For Senior Adults 9:30 – 11:00 AM • Room 200/202 Join us for good food, special music and a message from Pastor Ted titled “MAKE YOUR DASH COUNT.” No charge for brunch – an offering will be taken to cover costs. Contact Suzanne in the office for more information.

August31

City Rush High School (Grades 9-12) 6:00 – 7:00 AM • Gym Parking Lot Get ready to pull an all-nighter, as we travel

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COMPASS MAGAZINE

around the city for a variety of activities. We end back at the church the next morning. See www. RenovatioHSm.com for more details.

September16

September4

Students interested in baptism are encouraged to attend this one-day class in preparation for the baptism service on September 30.

Mom’s Connection Moms with kids (Infant – Grade 5) September 4- May 13 9:15 – 11:15 AM • Chapel Mom's Connection is a loving, safe place to engage with other moms, dig deep into God's Word and share fun activities. At the same time, we learn to grow as women, moms and wives. Childcare available for kids up to age 5. Contact Jennie in the church office for more information.

September4

Mosaic Line Dancing Senior Adults 9:30 – 11:00 AM • Room 200/202 Mosaic’s monthly line dancing activity. No experience needed. ALL seniors welcome! Call Suzanne in the office for more information.

September4

Fall Dance Studio Session Begins Ages 3 – Adult We offer a wide variety of classes, including ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap and more. New students are always welcome. Cost is $25.00 - $30.00 per month. See the schedule at firstcov.org/dance or contact Carolyn Melville at cmelville@firstcov.org.

September7–9

Tap In: Men’s Conference 2012 High School – Adult Men Friday- Sunday • Alliance Redwoods Join us for the Eighth Annual Men’s Conference in the forest of Alliance Redwoods on the Pacific coast. “Tap-In” to powerful worship, a special speaker and tons of free-time adventure options. Register today online at www.firstcov.org under “EVENTS”, or call Jennie in the church office.

September9

Baptism Class for Children Begins Kids in 1st-5th grade September 9 10:00 - 11:00 AM • Room 112 All children 1st-5th grade who have professed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are invited to go through our children’s baptism class. This three-week class is free and includes a workbook, snack and prize upon completion. Those children wishing to be baptized on September 30 must complete the entire three week series.

September12

Men’s Fall Kick-Off and BBQ High School - Adult 6:30 PM • On the patio and in the chapel Join fellow First Cov men by kicking off our fall events with a huge BBQ! Tri-tip, chicken, baked beans, potato salad, dessert and more)! Cost is only $10.00. Along with great food, there will also be a time of worship, a spiritual challenge and more information on the men’s’ fall bible study. Call Jennie in the church office to sign up.

September15 Scrap, Craft or Sew Women 10 AM – 5 PM • Room 112

Come on and get crafty and make some new friends during this monthly activity! All skill levels welcome. Bring your supplies and a snack to share.

Student Ministries Baptism Class Middle School and High School Students 10:00 AM • Room 211

September16

Fall Equipping Classes Begin 10:00 AM For topics and room schedule, see page 26.

September19

KIDs klub 1st-3rd Grade 6:15 - 8:15 PM • Room 110/112 KIDS KLUB is our midweek Equipping Class designed especially for children. KIDS KLUB matches up with our adult Equipping Classes on Wednesday nights, allowing parents to study their classes worry-free. Each meeting includes a life application Bible study, worship, high energy games, projects, memory verse challenge and snacks. Advanced registration is not required but all children must have a signed and completed medical release and registration form before they are able to attend. These forms are available online at www.firstcov.org under our children’s ministries page. Just follow the KIDS KLUB link.

September19

Children’s Choir 1st-5th Grade 6:15 - 8:15 PM • Room 110/112 Here’s a great opportunity for your child to be involved in the performing arts. Our Children’s Choir will be rehearsing a special Christmas presentation that will be performed at the Christmas Around the World Festival on December 15. The Children’s Choir practices match up with our adult Equipping Classes on Wednesday nights, allowing for parents to study their classes worryfree. Advanced registration is not required but all children must have a signed and completed medical release and registration form before they are able to attend. These forms are available online at www.firstcov.org under our children’s ministries page. Just follow the KIDS KLUB link.

September19

Wednesday Night Women’s Equipping Class September 19 – November 7 18+ 6:30 PM • Chapel Equipping women to seek and know God better through the study and application of His Word. Weekly meetings involve coming together as women to encourage and share with one another. For more information, contact Jennie in the church office.

September19

Wednesday Night Men’s Equipping Class 18+ September 19– November 7 6:30 PM • Room 200/202 Come and join an enthusiastic group of men for food and fellowship followed by an interactive, large group teaching session. Teaching sessions are followed by small group discussion and specific prayer for each other. It’s a great place to make connections and grow stronger in your faith. Contact Jennie in the church office for more information.

For more information about these events, visit www.firstcov.org or call the First Cov office at (916) 861-2240.


September20

October19

Equipping women to seek and know God better through the study and application of His Word. Weekly meetings involve coming together as women to encourage and share with one another. For more information, contact Jennie in the church office.

On Eagles Wings is a program designed to work with the special needs children in our community, giving them a safe and nurturing place to play and grow. The program not only attends to special needs children, but also to their siblings. This monthly event provides parents with the opportunity for a free night away, with child-care provided by workers trained to care for children with special needs.

Thursday Morning Women’s Equipping Class September 20– November 8 18+ 10:00 AM • Chapel

September21

On Eagles Wings – FREE Respite Night Birth to 14 years Third Friday of every month 6:00 - 9:00 PM • Nursery/Room 103

On Eagles Wings – FREE Respite Night Birth to 14 years Third Friday of every month 6:00 - 9:00 PM • Nursery/Room 103

October20

On Eagles Wings is a program designed to work with the special needs children in our community, giving them a safe and nurturing place to play and grow. The program not only attends to special needs children, but also to their siblings. This monthly event provides parents with the opportunity for a free night away, with child-care provided by workers trained to care for children with special needs.

For men from all over Northern California. This oneday event includes main sessions with keynote speakers: Chuck Stecker (Founder of “A Chosen Generation”) and Bryan Carter (Men’s Fraternity). Includes 16 seminar topics to choose from including Marriage, Life Purpose, Career Success, Thriving in Storms, Strong Faith and many more. Add a huge BBQ, interactive sessions and tons of resources for men – all for only $39.00 ($19.00 for students). Call Jeff in the church office for more information.

September23 New Members Class September 23 and October 7 12:45 PM • Chapel

Our two-part class required for church membership. These meetings include a complimentary lunch and Kid Kare. If you consider First Cov your home church (or want to make it your home!), we welcome you to join us for this class. Contact Suzanne in the church office for more information.

September23

Chosen Ones Pizza Lunch Families who are/are considering fostering or adopting 12:45 PM • Room 200/202 If you are a family who has adopted, is fostering or is considering fostering/adoption, please come to our monthly fourth Sunday get together. Bring your family as we get to meet and encourage one another in the journey on which God is taking our families. Cost is $5 per family.

September26

Burger Bash High School (Grades 9-12) 6:00 – 9:00 PM • Church Lawn Burger Bash is our big Back-To-School Event! ALL YOU CAN EAT Burgers for $1.00! Bring your friends, eat lots of burgers and play LASER TAG! See you there! Go to www.RenovateHSm.com for more details.

Iron Sharpens Iron High School – Adult Men 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM

October21

Mexicali Applications Available High School- Adult Box Office, At All Services Sign up for our annual Mexicali Global Outreach trip: March 22-30, 2013. Pick up your application in the box office. Contact Kellee in the church office for more information.

SHAPE Class 18+ 12:30 – 5:00 PM • Room 206 SHAPE Stands for Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experience. Transform serving into personally rewarding ministry by taking this class to learn more about how God uniquely created you. The SHAPE class will help you identify or confirm your gifts and talents, as well as guide you to find your niche in the church, making the best use of your strengths. Cost is $3 per person to cover cost of light lunch and materials. Sorry, there is no child care for this class. Call Lynn in the church office for more information.

October28

Chosen Ones Pizza Lunch Families who are/are considering fostering or adopting 12:45 PM • Room 200/202

Baptisms 8:30, 10 and 11:30 AM

Join us for First Cov’s bi-annual celebration of new life in Christ! If you would like to be baptized, please contact Jen in the church office.

October28

October2

MOSAIC Line Dancing Senior Adults 9:30 – 11:00 AM • Room 200/202 Mosaic’s monthly line dancing activity. No experience needed. ALL seniors welcome! Call Suzanne in the office for more information.

December4

Mosaic’s monthly line dancing activity. No experience needed. ALL seniors welcome! Call Suzanne in the office for more information.

Mosaic’s monthly line dancing activity. No experience needed. ALL seniors welcome! Call Suzanne in the office for more information.

November10

December15

Come on and get crafty and make some new friends during this monthly activity! All skill levels welcome. Bring your supplies and a snack to share.

Celebrate the season with an international food court and bazaar, multi-cultural music and dance presentations, countless carnival games and doit-yourself crafts. Entry is free! Invite your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

MOSAIC Line Dancing Senior Adults 9:30 – 11:00 AM • Room 200/202

Scrap, Craft or Sew Women 10 AM – 5 PM • Room 112

November11

Christmas Mall and Christmas Around the World Festival Training All Ages 12:45 – 2 PM • Worship Center If you plan to volunteer for either or both of these incredible holiday outreach events, you are encouraged to attend this special (fun!) training time. Lunch is provided for a $3 donation. *The training will be immediately followed by our Congregational Meeting.

November11

Congregational Meeting 2:30 – 4:30 PM • Worship Center A great time of worship, prayer for our church and ministry reports from our pastors and department heads. Our 2013 budget will be presented for approval by members. A special children’s program will be provided for ages through 5th grade.

October21

If you are a family who has adopted, is fostering or is considering fostering/adoption, please come to our monthly fourth Sunday get together. Bring your family as we get to meet and encourage one another in the journey on which God is taking our families. Cost is $5 per family.

September30

November6

Harvest Carnival All Ages 4:30 – 8:30 PM

Who doesn’t love a FREE carnival? Our annual Harvest Carnival is a free event and is open to our entire community―children, students and adults. Free activities include a ferris wheel, rock climbing wall, jump houses, giant slides, laser tag arena, cupcake walk, toddler and preschool area, carnival games, live band, police and fire department displays and our giant Trunk-or-Treat car maze. Lots of great food and treats will be available for purchase, so bring your appetite!

November16

On Eagles Wings – FREE Respite Night Birth to 14 years Third Friday of every month 6:00 - 9:00 PM • Nursery/Room 103 On Eagles Wings is a program designed to work with the special needs children in our community, giving them a safe and nurturing place to play and grow. The program not only attends to special needs children, but also to their siblings. This monthly event provides parents with the opportunity for a free night away, with child-care provided by workers trained to care for children with special needs.

MOSAIC Line Dancing Senior Adults 9:30 – 11:00 AM • Room 200/202

Christmas Around the World Festival All Ages 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

December21

On Eagles Wings – FREE Respite Night Birth to 14 years Third Friday of every month 6:00 - 9:00 PM • Nursery/Room 103 On Eagles Wings is a program designed to work with the special needs children in our community, giving them a safe and nurturing place to play and grow. The program not only attends to special needs children, but also to their siblings. This monthly event provides parents with the opportunity for a free night away, with child-care provided by workers trained to care for children with special needs.

December24

Christmas Eve Services 3:00 and 5:00 PM • 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.

December30

Chosen Ones Pizza Lunch Families who are/are considering fostering or adopting 12:45 PM • Room 200/202 If you are a family who has adopted, is fostering or is considering fostering/adoption, please come to our monthly fourth Sunday get together. Bring your family as we get to meet and encourage one another in the journey on which God is taking our families. Cost is $5 per family.

November25

Chosen Ones Pizza Lunch Families who are/are considering fostering or adopting 12:45 PM • Room 200/202 If you are a family who has adopted, is fostering or is considering fostering/adoption, please come to our monthly fourth Sunday get together. Bring your family as we get to meet and encourage one another in the journey on which God is taking our families. Cost is $5 per family.

December1 Christmas Mall 12+ 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

First Cov is planning another incredible Christmas Mall to bless the homeless and families in need in our area. This year we will provide a mall experience for 550 guests from various ministry locations in our area. We need volunteers in all areas! To volunteer, contact Carolyn at cmelville@ firstcov.org

For more information about these events, visit www.firstcov.org or call the First Cov office at (916) 861-2240.

WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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by Jen Raynes

SURPRISE!

THIS IS THE GOSPEL!

Reflections from Global Pipeline Christian university graduate. Discipleship school director. Years of experience serving “on the field” overseas. Full-time staff member of a mega church. Sounds like a good resume? I thought so. But just when I thought I understood what it meant to live as a follower of Christ, Global Pipeline shook up my entire worldview. I have taught and been inundated with ridiculous amounts of Bible teaching over my young life. While all of these things have been extremely valuable building blocks in my spiritual walk, none compared to the unique and deep work that the Lord has used Global Pipeline to build into my life. Going into 2012, little did I know that I would be embarking on an intensely challenging journey in my faith. Immersed in the Global Pipeline internship, I have spent hours poring over and wrestling with the difficult words of Jesus in the Gospels. Scripture has come alive to me like never before, as my fellow interns have unapologetically dared to ask themselves (and me!) the hard questions of life: Have I spent my life valuing the things

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COmpaSS maGaZIne

that Jesus values—giving to the poor and needy, serving others, seeking the glory of the Father in all I do? Do I “count it all joy” when I am faced with trials and temptations? Do I REALLY believe that if I have faith in Jesus, I can do even greater things than He did when He was here on earth? Over the last six months, I have been faced with the sobering reality of just how un-like Christ I am. Despite a degree, myriads of ministry experiences and a head full of knowledge, I still have much to learn… Thankfully, the Lord hasn’t given up on me. He has used the Global Pipeline internship to humble me and mold me in intense and beautiful new ways. In January, I would have never expected to be learning the lessons I am, and ministering to the people and nations that I am now investing my time reaching out to. It has been both a fascinating, and deeply fulfilling, journey. I distinctly remember saying (rather ironically) in my Global Pipeline interview that reaching out to Muslims was “not my thing.” Global Outreach, ministry and Jesus, however, was. Even after such a


So, I laugh…and advise that you should “never say never” when you are submitted to following God’s will. I didn’t begin the internship with a “heart for Muslims,” but that’s how it has ended. In my own experience, Jesus is always faithful to transform my heart to love what He has called me to do. And I pray that He does that for you too. If you’ve gotten this far in the article, I assume that you’re intrigued enough to consider whether or not YOU have the makings of being a Global Pipeline intern for 2013. Let me encourage you: The question is not whether you feel “called” to global outreach or ministry to Muslims, but whether you are willing to allow the Lord to expand your perspective and change your heart. Of all the amazing experiences I’ve had, I can honestly tell you that this simple six-month program has been one of the

most significant seasons on the timeline of my life. I am learning. I am changing. And I am loving this new heart Jesus has given me. Affectionately nicknamed “The Cheerleader Bookworm” by a college pal, Jennifer Raynes is a nerdy, girly girl who loves sundresses, shopping and studying theology. By day, you can find Jen running around the First Cov office, pulling together all the little pieces that make our worship services, global outreach trips and all-church events so awesome. By night, she can be found sipping chai latte’s or savoring delicious ethnic food with some incredibly cool people—swapping fascinating tales of their international adventures. jraynes@firstcov.org

WORDS OF INSPIRATION FROM THE 2012 GLOBAL PIPELINE INTERNS

confession, the GP directors graciously allowed me to join (perhaps they knew something I didn’t?). Thinking back over these last few months, I have to laugh at the irony of the activities that have filled my schedule: Visiting mosques, studying the Qu’ran (to learn what it says about Jesus) and weekly meetings at Starbucks, studying the Bible with a Muslim friend.

niCole maCha Through this amazing experience in Global Pipeline, God has opened my mind and softened my heart to absorb a deeper understanding of His love for his people and how it transcends the pride of our perceptions. I have been impacted by our extensive studies in God’s word and it has changed my view on what it means to be a follower of Christ. I have seen the vastness of God’s love that transcends religious lines, understanding that no matter who you are, through the blood of Jesus, when you believe, you are saved and you are His! eric Stoner God used Global Pipeline in my life in a couple of big ways: After reading, “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan, my confidence was really shaken (in a good way!) as I realized that I haven’t been living in alignment with the claims that Christ has on my life. I found that my attitude towards comfort, possessions, money and my time was mostly self-centered. My hope is that by the grace of God, my attitude towards those things will continue to dramatically shift in order that my family and I would live a more selfless life for the sake of God’s kingdom. Through reading a book called “Muslims, Christians and Jesus,” I began to see all of the walls that Satan has put up between Muslims and Christians to keep Christians from sharing the good news of Jesus with Muslims. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that most of us have deep prejudices against people from the Middle East. What I realized is that many Muslims and Christians both have the exact same prejudices against each other, the same fears of one another and the same judgments of one another. All of these things are based on a history of injustices done by people of radical groups from both parties. My eyes were opened to see that these are lies that need to be set aside. Muslims are just people who need Jesus like everybody else. It’s our job to love them, not point the finger at them. Stereotyping people never helped anybody get to heaven. heatheR Bagwell After taking the “Muslims, Christians and Jesus” Equipping Class last year at First Cov., Pastor Mark approached my husband and I and asked if we were interested in doing the internship WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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Over the last six months I have gained more knowledge and insight on the New Testament than I would have on my own. I also have a more personal relationship with Jesus—one I never thought I’d have. I’ve also done things in Global Pipeline that I never thought I’d do, like going to a mosque and building some really good friendships with people who need Jesus in their lives. And through Global Pipeline, I’ve gained the knowledge and skills to lead people to Christ. david Bagwell My journey into Global Pipeline has been very humbling. The visions that I had for advancing the kingdom don’t seem to be the same that God has. And why should they be? His plans are greater than mine. I’m learning to confess that His plans for me are indeed my plans for me, regardless if I understand them or if I can even tell what they are. God can achieve so much more than the things I can think of. In order to reach the people God has asked me to reach, it is forcing me to do something I don’t naturally do—build friendships. Friendships that do not benefit me. Friendships where I’m the one giving and bending and accommodating. It’s not so easy to put myself second for people who sometimes care less that I’m putting my desires aside for them. But when I reflect upon Jesus in the gospels, I am humbled to see how, even when he was tired and hungry, Jesus would often tend to others and put their needs for teaching and healing before His own desires. Jesus endured so much for people who didn’t always care about what he was giving up, so that they could be better off. Because each one of us is created in God’s own image, we must learn to love each other as if we are loving God himself. Global Pipeline has really shown me that love is an action not a feeling.

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WORDS OF INSPIRATION FROM THE 2012 GLOBAL PIPELINE INTERNS

together. My husband was especially interested in the Muslim aspect, but what really piqued my interest was that there would be an intense study of the New Testament. As a new Christian, I really wanted to gain more knowledge of the Bible— learning more about Muslims was just an added benefit. So we both decided to see where God was leading us and join Global Pipeline.

10 COOL THINGS

WE DID IN GLOBAL PIPELINE

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Read through all four Gospels (twice!), studying and discussing them together as a group over some amazing meals (a great mix of international and good ol' American cuisine) Built friendships with Muslims through regular visits to local mosques (we went to historical classes, a poetry slam and even a comedy night—all at the mosque!) We hosted a baby shower for an expecting Arab family (to be a blessing, but also to give them a better taste of American culture)

4

Completed an in-depth assessment of our Christian character (with help from our friends/family/fellow interns) and set specific spiritual growth goals for the next year

5

Shared a meal with a beautiful family of refugees from Iraq. Just one of the many families we have had the privilege of building relationship with over the last six months.

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Read three amazing books that motivated and challenged us to no end: Crazy Love by Francis Chan; Muslims, Christians and Jesus by Carl Meaderis, and Church Planting Movements by David Garrison

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Read through the book of Acts, engaging in some fascinating conversations about what it really means to “be the Church”

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Heard incredibly inspiring firsthand “stories from the field” from our Global Outreach partners: Jim and Heather Meyers, Johnny and Kayti, and David and Minnie Palmer

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Memorized a new “Jesus Story” each week, learning how to share the parables Jesus told with our Muslim friends (or any friends) in normal, everyday conversation

We went to India! We just got back two days ago, so you’ll have to read more about it in the next issue. Get excited—we have some great stories to tell!


DON't WastE YOUR REtiREMENt by Matt Newton

Someone once said, “One life to live soon will pass, only what’s done for Christ will last.” When Doug and Linda Kenner recently retired, they knew they didn’t want to busy themselves with self-focused activities—endless traveling, perpetual golf or constant fishing. The Kenner’s made a clear, conscious decision to spend their retirement investing in the Kingdom of God. For Linda Kenner, the Lord instilled a new passion to become involved in the community in which she has lived for almost 30 years. Surprising even her, this passion motivated Linda to do things she would never have dreamt of doing before. Recently, she was named “Rosemont Volunteer of the Year” and was honored at the Rosemont Community Association’s (RCA) annual meeting in April. In front of a few hundred people, she was presented an award by County Supervisor, Don Nottoli. He stated, “She’s a good example – a fine example – of someone who’s an advocate for her community.” I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Doug and Linda and asked Linda a few questions: Q: what has been your involvement in the Rosemont neighborhood and community? A: Doug and I felt that it was important to give back to the community by volunteering. When we approached the RCA Board, we were thankful to be able to offer the help of others whom we knew shared the same desire to reach out. Initially, a meeting to consider ways to strengthen Rosemont was arranged with other Rosemont growth group leaders from First Cov and leaders of the RCA. A primary focus was to consider how to expand Neighborhood Watch groups. In less than two years, we have seen 8 groups expand to 23, with several more ready to form! The Kenner’s have also developed a professional relationship with the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, helping to implement important resources for Rosemont including fingerprinting of children, recruiting and training new Neighborhood Watch coordinators, organizing fundraisers and doing service projects with other Rosemont growth groups. Linda is also a regular contributor to the Rosemont Patch, a community online news website.

Q: How has this affected yours and Doug’s ministry in Growth Groups? A: We shared with our growth group what the Lord put on our hearts. We saw our group become united and strengthened as we, collectively, put into action the love of Christ by reaching out to our neighborhood. Our growth group has grown stronger together as we have reached out together to build relationships. Q: How has becoming involved in your neighborhood helped you seek first the Kingdom of God? A: The things that I have become involved in and what I am doing would not have happened without the Lord prompting me and me choosing to obey. I would have never done these things four years ago. But, I have been concerned about the direction our society has been going and I refuse to keep my head in the sand. We desired a way of life that involved building relationships with those in our community, while loving our community, by serving it and making it better. In addition, by serving Jesus as growth group leaders, training and equipping other leaders, and now presently serving as growth group coaches, we feel that our retirement years have Kingdom purpose. The beauty of it is that this has become a way of life–not a burden at all!

of my comfort zone and do something the Lord had invited me to do that I have experienced God’s power to do His will. My obedience to Him has allowed me to see God’s supernatural work of transformation in my life. His grace and love have given me the boldness in my community to risk for the Kingdom of God. There is NOTHING more exciting, fulfilling or humbling! Living for Jesus’ glory and fame is what Matt Newton cares most about—which is why he serves Him as Pastor of Growth Groups. He loves to help empower, mobilize and equip people to see themselves as God sees them—sent by God on His mission, to live out the Gospel in community by being disciplemaking disciples…by the power and grace of Jesus alone! mnewton@firstcov.org Editor’s Note: Matt thought you might want to check out the article written about Linda in the Rosemont Patch. you can find it here: http://rosemont.patch.com/ articles/kenner-named-rosemont-volunteer-of-year

Q: why is this involvement so important to you? A: Over 15 years ago, Doug and I tasted the “beauty of community.” Due to changing circumstances, that vital element of life was lost… I lived for years in a very spiritually dry place. That changed four years ago when the vision of growth groups was shared, sparking in me a spiritual revitalization. I knew living a life on mission (loving God and loving others) was how God created us. It is because I chose to step out WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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REViEWs aPPs

BOOKs

MOViEs

MUsiC

t.V.

staFF-PiCKs

sOMEthiNG thOUGht-PROVOKiNG

sOMEthiNG ROMaNtiC

thE hUNGER GaMEs

thE VOW

Rated PG-13 (On DVD)

Rated PG-13 (On DVD)

You’d be hard-pressed to find a youngin’ nowadays who hasn’t had their hands on a copy of The Hunger Games, the wildly popular series of books by Suzanne Collins. For those unfamiliar with the novels (and who have obviously been living under a rock the past few years, like me), The Hunger Games takes place in a futuristic North America known as Panem. Divided into 13 districts, Panem is controlled by a harsh and brutal government–so brutal, in fact, that it has devised an annual event known as the “Hunger Games” in which one boy and one girl from each district must fight to the death. It is a show of the government’s power used as a source of entertainment for its upper-class citizens. Jennifer Lawrence plays the heroine of Katniss Everdeen, one of those selected to participate in this life-ordeath “game.” In a world plagued by oppression, death and selfishness, Katniss is a self-sacrificial hero who is steady with an arrow and willing to take risks to save those she cares for. She helps the less-fortunate, grieves for those who suffer, and stands up for the weak. Despite the violent world into which she’s been thrown, young girls would be hard-pressed to find a fictional female role-model as selfless and brave as Katniss. The concept of The Hunger Games may seem ridiculously far-fetched to a modern American audience, but this film’s message is clear: This is what

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happens when a society’s elite have no respect for the lives they consider to be somehow “beneath” them. This is the result of a culture becoming desensitized to the pain and suffering of others. One need only look through a history book to see this ring true. The film’s intense, often-cringe-worthy, violence may be too much for younger viewers, but The Hunger Games is a violent movie with a very anti-violence message. While using brutality and fighting to preach against violence is a very fine line, I believe this film has succeeded. It does not glorify it or feature violence for violence’s sake, but instead shows its devastating effects upon society. Admittedly, having never read the book, I find this film’s adaptation compelling and intriguing in its own right. It may be a bit lengthy at 150 minutes, and the handheld camerawork a bit jarring at times, but even still, there is little to complain about with Hunger. It has emotion, adventure, even humor (and a surprising amount of bizarre facial hair). In a film full of talented actors, Jennifer Lawrence is no doubt the highlight, pulling off an impressive lead performance with raw emotion. With a deep respect for human life, The Hunger Games is a gritty, intense, and moving story of a young generation’s loss of innocence in a not-so-distant future.

Based on a touching true story, “The Vow” is the tale of a couple’s love torn apart by a devastating car accident. Paige (Rachael McAdams) wakes up after the accident without any recollection of her husband Leo (Channing Tatum) or their marriage. Not ready to enter immediately back into a life together, Paige agrees to take things slow with her stranger-fora-husband and get to know each other all over. As Leo tells one of his friends with a heavy heart, “I gotta make my wife fall in love with me again.” “The Vow” urges us to fight for love and stay true to our commitments, no matter what the difficulty. As we witness in the film, Leo’s love for his wife is genuine and unconditional. He truly wants the best for her, even if that means giving her up. Despite the film’s touching moments and inspiration, it struggles to deliver a satisfying story. As much as I wanted to care about the life and relationship between these two characters, I struggled throughout the film to find a reason why. “The Vow” feels like “The Notebook’s” little sister, trying so desperately to follow in its footsteps and copy its success, that it loses sight of its own characters and the emotions they should be feeling. The result is a couple of wooden caricatures in place of genuine, original characters. If Rachael McAdams wasn’t so adorably cute, I probably would have lost interest

far before the end credits rolled. A script full of plot holes, numerous pointless characters, and a cliché storyline didn’t do much to help the film either. Add onto that, the fact that the film features some brief nudity and some harsh language, and this might be one some choose to skip. “The Vow” had the potential to offer a fresh and unique take on love, but ends up trite and full of unearned sap. Even for fans of the romance genre, this one just doesn’t cut it—no matter how sweet and cute Ms. McAdams may be.


By Jennie Nagy • jnagy@firstcov.org

sOMEthiNG FUN aND aCtiON-PaCKED

MEN iN BLaCK iii

Rated PG-13 (In Second-Run Theaters; Coming Soon to DVD)

Nearly fifteen years since their first adventure together, Agents Jay and Kay return in this fun, cheesy, summer “threequel.” While no one was exactly begging for a third film in the franchise, “Men in Black III” surprises with a good amount of humor and heart. Will Smith fills out his suit nicely once more, this time having to find a way back in time to save a younger Agent Kay from being killed by a time-traveling super-villain known as “Boris the Animal,” by killing a younger version of said villain. It’s confusing…I know. “MIB3” takes on a decidedly more emotional tone than its predecessors, focusing on the strength of friendship and the importance of looking out for those we care about. Throughout the story, Agent Jay comes to have a greater appreciation for Agent Kay (and he likewise), acknowledging the fact that over time, these friends have become more like family. Jay takes some major risks to not only save Kay’s life, but also help him avoid an emotional trauma.

The time-travel narrative features some illogical leaps in reason, which are a bit confusing, and many moments in the film are cheesy at best. When it comes to offensive content, there’s a fair amount of language, and plenty of potential “gross-out” moments (including an alien make-out session and oodles of exploding extraterrestrials). The highlight of the film, though, has to be Josh Brolin, who is so good at portraying a young Tommy Lee Jones, that it’s almost other-worldly (alien, anyone?). A talented supporting cast also help round out the film, despite its uneven edges. It may not recapture the magic of the first film, but “Men in Black III” is still a rousing and entertaining summer popcorn flick.

Matt Tory is currently a college student working towards his goal of one day being a light for Christ in the film industry. As a student, his time is mostly split between doing homework, studying, making short films, going to work, working, going home from work, drinking Mountain Dew and eating junk food. mattmonk412@yahoo.com

While at times embarrassing to our children, whenever my husband hears a person speak with an accent, he almost always asks their nationality and country of origin. With his own history of immigrating to the United States as a child, Tom adores sharing similar experiences with others. No matter where Tom is—whether out to eat, in line at the bank, hanging upside down in a roller coaster, or making an arrest (he’s a retired police officer)— if he hears the slightest hint of a foreign tongue, he immediately seeks out a conversation, like a hidden treasure to be uncovered. Having lived overseas myself, I too often speculate about a person’s history and background when I discern an accent. When they are speaking their native language, I sometimes wonder if they are cussing or talking about the sales person who acted snotty, or maybe even about me, the quirky blonde studying them. Unlike my husband, however, I am not typically inclined to strike up a conversation about it. Until last week… Marty arrived at the church office on business, efficiently installing new machinery to help make our administrative lives less hectic. His quiet demeanor, pronounced limp, and round seemingly bottomless dark eyes grabbed my attention. Marty’s accent sounded familiar and, uncharacteristically, I decided to dig. Appreciating the irony in his struggle to understand my own California “Valley Girl-ish”, I gently coaxed the soil of his naturally restrained manner. “Where are you from?” I asked. “Cambodia,” he told me. “Oh,” I replied with excitement, “I have been to Thailand three times, and I know a couple women who will be visiting Cambodia this summer. I would love to go there some day!” “Are they missionaries?” Marty wondered. Not exactly sure where my answer would lead, I replied hesitantly, “Yes, they are. Are you Buddhist or …?” “No, I’m born again,” he answered enthusiastically. Eureka! I struck gold. Marty went on to explain his family’s struggle to flee Cambodia in the midst of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s. As I listened to him recount his captivating tale of terror, I noticed the smallest tear escaping down Marty’s cheek. “Because God brought us to America when he did, I became a believer. If He had not done so before Christianity existed in this land, I would not be able to say I am born again, I would not be able to praise Him!” Marty went on to tell me how God even used him to lead his mother, as well as her husband (who previously ridiculed his mother’s faith), to Christ. Enchanted by story after story, I watched Marty’s face gleam with pure joy as he spoke about the Lord, his homeland and bringing his children to Sunday school every week. My conversation with Marty reminded me that as believers each of us is a living, breathing testimony of a God not bound by borders or language. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field. When a man discovered it, he buried it again. He was so delighted with it that he went away, sold everything he had, and bought that field.” (God’s Word Translation). When we seek Jesus, not only do we find hidden treasure in those around us, but we become richer ourselves as we hear and share these stories. Don’t tell anyone, but Jennie Nagy used to want to be a jockey once upon a time before she came to work as an Administrative Assistant here at First Cov (“I grew out of it,” she says). Wife, mom and avid traveler, Jennie loves her job for the opportunity to build and be challenged by relationships “here, overseas and all over the place.” jnagy@firstcov.org

WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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Here’s the thing: I screw up a lot. I really do! On the one hand, I’m capable, driven, skilled and intelligent. On the other hand, I’m holding a taser backwards. I seem to take one step forward, two steps back, then tase myself and fall over. I used to blame my youth. Then I blamed el Niño. But it struck me recently that something far more sinister is happening. I think my brain is leading an insurgency against the benevolent dictatorship I have over my empire of success. The deeper I pry into this rebellion, the more I see that there is a covert system of next-level strategic maneuvers designed specifically to screw my life up. My regime hasn’t got a chance against this kind of dissent. To save myself a great deal of hassle, I’ve decided to step down, give in and declare my support for this new government. I encourage you to do the same by following these ten foolproof strategies to effectively screw up your life, too.

Be annoying.

Like you didn’t see this coming. Annoying people are the first fired, last invited and always avoided. As my brain decided to execute its sinister plan to screw my life up, the first thing it did was to make me annoying. When the poison took, my Facebook status swelled with politics, song lyrics, and volatile clamoring about whether today is the best or worst day ever. I brought generic soda to parties and my mouth was dripping with all the vapid clichés and senseless advice. Be annoying! Right, wrong or indifferent, circumstances clearly favor those willing to put a little time into precisely what irritates people. Annoying turns into alone real fast—and THEN you’ll have achieved something.

Say “Yes.”

After 10-12 hours of work, I figure I have about 5 hours left before I become about as effective as 200-pounds of chewed bubblegum. Throw some travel time and dinner into the mix and I have time for 1 more thing. I like to say “Yes” to at least three. I do everything! I’m a pro at saying “Yes!” Don’t get me wrong, I understand there’s no biblical distinction between being a Christian and sacrificially spending my time and talents making disciples, but if I say “Yes” to everything that comes my way, then I get to be too busy to bother with all of that. Say “Yes!” to it all! It’ll keep you frazzled, on two wheels, and from, well, something that is actually important.

Complain.

Nothing speaks louder about my depravity than my mouth. By complaining all day, I can simultaneously achieve 3 things: Repulse everyone, get madder and spit on Jesus’ provision for me. There are lots of ways to complain, but I find it is most effective to complain about people. You know, little things they do that annoy me. Or ways they’ve made mistakes. Or how awesome I am for saving the day.

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The best part is that I get to hold my grace above their head just to needle their dignity. Complaining from an entitled perspective is usually a great strategy as well. I’m not totally sure how the world owes me something I didn’t know existed 10 minutes ago, but you can bet your bottomless chips and salsa that my waiter will find out about it. Complain as often as possible. It’s a surefire plan for an empty banquet-table and an emptier heart!

Expect much.

Ahhhh, the perfect job. There’s nothing like waking up each morning with tasks tightly bound to your deepest held convictions and purpose. No crappy bosses. No incompetent co-workers. No trouble paying bills. No seriously, it doesn’t exist. But I can insist on expecting way too much anyway! God might not know it, but I’m entitled to whatever it is I decide I need. And when it doesn’t end up happening, I get depressed, angry, or caught off-gaurd and on my heels. With this accomplished, all the easier to screw up my life with some of the other strategies in this list. Awesome!

“It’s only $3.”

I’m third in line to pay for gas. Of course, the card machine at the pump broke thirty-one seconds before I pulled up. I’m exhausted (as usual). Then I see her: She’s slim, dressed in playful pink, and infused with a mild herbal appetite suppressant. “Go Girl” Energy Drink is two for three dollars right now! I proudly add both to my tab, no questions asked. Go ahead, guys, make fun of me. You can be tired and manly, and I’ll be an energetic metrosexual. Dollars here and there add up! Hundreds (sometimes thousands!) are squandered

three dollars at a time. So yea, grab another bag of chips...if you wanna screw your life up. I definitely do.

Neglect a budget.

appointments I had with my Chocolate Pudding Snack-Packs. After twenty chocolaty minutes of pudding reflection, something totally different struck me.

I hate that tiresome twenty-dollar overdraft charge when I use my card after running out of money. Of course, I use it 3 separate times in one day so now my emergencylunch-time-taco-tour-de-shame is gonna run me nearly seventy bones. Great. Enough to trigger a desperate “angry nap” in my car.

My brain makes me a victim of my schedule, as if my schedule makes itself. Of course I’m not doing the things most important to me...I never write them in! I never carve out the space. If I’m out to screw up my life, I’ll find a hard time doing it any better than that. Well played, brain, well played.

No budget? No savings. No vacations. No rainy day fund. Just angry naps and eating my dreams.

Fill your day off.

Think casually.

I’ve got a ton of great ideas! But I never write them down. I never say them out loud. I never apply any foundational level of organization to any of ‘em. Most of my creative thought processes occur while I panic through freeway traffic at 15mph. I’m upset because the car in front of me isn’t going, as if there aren’t 175 cars in front of it. I’ve got a cottage-cheese-filled water balloon for a brain, so how could I expect my ideas to make sense longer than eight seconds swirling around in that mess? With no tangible, organized thought outlets, I’ve got no chance; that’s perfect for screwing up my life.

Be a victim of your schedule.

On rare occasions, I do something kind of smart. This would be one of those days. I triumphantly sat down with some paper at my kitchen table. It wobbled the way all Ikea furniture does while I proudly scribbled the things most important to me. Then I sketched my joke of a calendar. Initially, I was alarmed at the number of

I’m exhausted. I know you don’t know what that’s like, so let me help. It feels like too much Mexican food at 2:30pm. In my life, lunch-related comas are the leading cause of waking up sweaty in a public restroom. Work, relationships, emotions, even my faith are affected negatively by never being rested and healthy. So why would I ever fix that? With that in mind, you can imagine how eager I am to fill my day off with yard work, grocery shopping, and more of the work I did the other six days. And, of course, God has my best interest at heart, so why would I Sabbath? For that matter, I think I’m gonna take another look at the other nine Commandments. Adultery, murder, worshipping idols, not Sabbathing, etc. They’re all the same in God’s eyes so if I’m gonna screw up, it looks like I’ve got some work to do. Besides, serious rest and time with God just sounds silly anyway.

Make subversive excuses. Excuses are like...never mind.

I’m pretty good at identifying obvious excuses and not making them–those make

me look bad. While I’m all for screwing up my life I would like to maintain the facade of capability. I am, however, exquisitely adept at ignoring all those subversive excuses that keep me from choosing what’s best in exchange for something that’s good, okay or just plain wrong. You know what I’m talking about, right? Like when I don’t give to my home church because finances are tight and “I really can’t afford it.” Or when I ignore my family because “work is crazy right now.” Or when I don’t share Jesus with people because “I’m called to lead a growth group instead.” We all know the truth: I’m a cheapskate that loves money, is uncomfortable leading family because I’m insecure, and a coward that wants a savior but not new life. Jesus is my savior, sure. But if following Jesus is going to require more of me than admitting that I sin, I need to fall back on some subtle, destructive decisions, masked by excuses that let me pretend I’m unaware. And isn’t ignoring our own brokenness the best way to screw up our lives anyway? Brilliant. Adam Adams loves his life—really, he does. Despite the fact that he tends to screw it up every now and then, he can’t get over this ridiculous Grace that keeps redeeming things. Adam runs his own business, is the Pastor of Small Groups at Disciple’s Church in Folsom, and spends many Go Girl -fueled hours at the First Cov office making all our graphic designs totally awesome. And yes, if you were wondering, that IS his real name (we would have come up with a more clever pseudo name than that…). aadams@firstcov.org

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First Cov’s Newest Ministry to College Students and Young Adults (18-28)

What is SOLAS? Let me tell you a true story about a college student named Martin. Like most young adults, he wrestled a great deal with matters of faith and life. He had a great ache in his heart over the distance he felt between himself and God. He did all the “right things” and still felt drastically unworthy and inadequate.

"For Martin that enormous gap between God and human beings was finally closed as he read the book of Romans. He found real freedom for his aching heart. Martin came to realize what grace really is when received and accepted." This college student had the same aching heart many college students and young adults have. With our sin, we find ourselves drastically distant from God wishing we could do certain things that will suddenly put us in right relationship with Him. Martin Luther relied on scripture ONLY in his search to come closer to God.  We launched a brand new Young Adult Ministry here at First Covenant to serve and love the aching hearts of young adults in this area. The ministry is called SOLAS.  SOLAS is a Latin word that means “only” or “alone” and it is a direct reference to the five Solas. These were five statements made by Martin Luther and the Christian reformers who were seeking dramatic renewal of the Gospel message.

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COMPASS MAGAZINE

by PC Walker

These five statements are foundational truths to a Gospel-centered life: - Sola FIDE - faith alone      - Sola GRATIA - grace alone      - Solus CHRISTUS - Christ alone      - Sola SCRIPTURA - Scripture alone     - Soli DEO GLORIA - the glory of God alone SOLAS Young Adult Ministry desires to keep the Gospel at the center of EVERYTHING we do. The Gospel is not a one-time decision for a ticket to heaven. Every decision we make, every single day hinges on the Gospel. SOLAS will not stray from the Gospel presented in SCRIPTURE alone. That Gospel shows us that our salvation is by GRACE alone through FAITH alone, in CHRIST alone, for the GLORY OF GOD alone. Sunday nights are our main gathering where we connect and worship with one another. In our student-led Growth Groups throughout the week, we go deeper and engage more personal interaction with one another. Expect connection with likeminded people, as well as receiving the tools to encourage you in knowing and growing with Jesus. There is a growing desire for truth and connection in our young adult culture: SOLAS is the place where you can discover both. If you have met someone like Martin, please tell him or her about SOLAS. If you are 18-28 years old, come join us on Sunday nights at 6pm.


by PC Walker

Jesus is wrecking everything

I chose to do something very dangerous a few months ago. I read the Gospels straight through. The commitment necessary to follow Jesus is clear: Drop everything to follow Him. A real follower of Jesus makes Him center. In order for Him to be the center, other things have to move. Jesus wrecks everything.

I have heard the story of someone whose life was torn up before Jesus put his life together. This is not my story. My life was put together. I had it laid out nicely until Jesus waylaid me with the gospel. The more I read the gospels, the more it messes me up. Jesus turns everything I believe in, value and hope for, upside down. We like to pick and choose the things of Jesus we want to follow, intentionally avoiding the difficult parts. Oswald Chambers wrote, “Have you ever heard the Master say a hard word? If you have not, I question whether you have heard Him say anything.” Reading the gospels reveal to me that Jesus is far more serious about these things than I am. He is not concerned with my American dream or my comfort. We need to be reminded of how destructive and abrasive the words of Jesus are to our lives. Most of Jesus’ words and commands should be wrecking our lives. Since the day he ambushed my life with his ridiculous love, Jesus has taken me into the lives of the terribly broken, addicted, and filthy. Through gospel lenses, my neighbors, co-workers, and friends look very different. Following the footsteps of Jesus, I cannot remember what it feels like to be bored. We in America are rich young rulers (Luke 18) called to very difficult things. They are difficult because most of our culture’s pursuits do not line up with the way Jesus calls us to live. As we surrender to Him, Jesus intends to wreck our lives as they are. Most of the time, I walk away sorrowful because I cannot bring myself to fully follow Jesus. Jesus never comes running after me begging and pleading. My desire brings me back to Jesus–he challenges me to something that will require a sacrifice on my part, and I am faced with a difficult decision as to whether or not to do it. I have heard many sermons about surrendering to God, but it seems they usually stop at a similar

point. Surrender means learning to let go of all your worries, anxieties and expectations in order to develop a dependent posture toward God. The only way God is going to lead you is when you throw your hands up and become fully dependent on Him. We like the sound of letting go of worry and anxiety, but we often fail to understand in developing a dependent posture toward God and His will for us, there WILL be work to be done. At some point, a Christian must surrender his comfort and selfish desires to follow the crazy call of Jesus, but surrender without obedience is just laziness. Surrender is not an aversion of responsibility. Surrender is not an excuse to bum your way through life. Surrender to God is a relentless openness to Him and His leading. Surrender to God is a lifestyle and lifetime of entangling our hearts with His. Some days I follow Jesus. Some days, I am the rich young ruler, walking away from Him with my head hung low, because I am unable [and unwilling] to fully obey. Jesus has not quite wrecked my life, but He’s always trying. PC Walker serves as husband to Tonya and father to Bryleigh and Haddisen. In his spare time after that, he serves as the College and Young Adult Pastor at First Covenant. He loves Notre Dame and the Oregon Ducks. pwalker@firstcov.org

WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD FESTIVAL Season Of Joy Join us in an international Christmas celebration as we present music, drama and dance inspired by Celtic traditions. Come enjoy the hospitality of Irish culture and see the Christmas story unfold in a unique way. Featuring our Choir and Dance Studio.

Children's Choir Enjoy Christmas through the eyes and voices of our children as they present a delightful musical “Christmas Around the World.”

International Food Festival Enjoy a variety of delicious foods from around the world in our international food court. Sample and savor delights from Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. 18

COMPASS MAGAZINE

Christmas Shopping for a Cause The International Bazaar will feature booths from a variety of not-for-profit ministries such as Sak Saum (Cambodia) and Abundant Life Center (Thailand). Your compassionate purchases of international products such as clothing, jewelry, accessories and packaged food items will help support ministries dedicated to providing new jobs, training and education to those in need around the globe.

DEC 15 • 10 AM - 8 PM

Celebrate the season with an international food court and bazaar, multi-cultural music and dance presentations, countless carnival games and doit-yourself crafts. Entry is free! Invite your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.


By Dan DeMuri • ddemuri@firstcov.org

I'll Sleep When I'm dead Our society is fascinated with being busy and tired. In fact, we tend to wear our sleep deprivation as a badge of honor. It almost feels as though there is a stigma with having an absence of chaos in our lives. We hoard tasks in an effort to satisfy our innate desire to feel busy. What is it about our nature that we need to fill every waking minute of every day with something? Why would it feel so wrong to admit that we were well rested because for one day a week we did absolutely nothing? (I bet you just cringed a little when you read that—the thought of doing nothing). The title of this article is actually a quote credited to Warren Zevon. Many people in my life have literally used this phrase as a mantra for why they never stop doing. Personally, I’ve come to realize that the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” idea can be a hazardous attitude. Even more importantly, I don’t believe it is a statement founded on the Word of God. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in hard work. I believe that our labor brings God glory, but I’m concerned that, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have mistakenly allowed our hectic culture to determine how we manage our lives instead of relying on wisdom from the Word of God. In the book of Exodus, Moses went before God at Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments. Among them were some pretty serious commands, including do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, honor your father and mother, do not covet, do not misuse the name of the Lord. Also included in that list (and just as significant) was the command to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Now if God gave Moses a list of ten specific commands and one of them was the command to rest, then I’m inclined to think that it was pretty important. The reality is that when we rest, we remember that the world is not dependent on us. It reminds us that God is in control of everything and we can trust Him with our lives, responsibilities and schedules. So then the question is simple…

Do you really take seriously God’s command to keep the Sabbath? I’ll be the first one to be honest and say “no.” I am employed at a church and because of my role as a worship leader, I work almost every Sunday. I struggle with setting aside other times in my week to rest. When I was asked to write this article, I realized just how consistently I neglect this in my life. I am faced with the reality that if I am really going to seek first the kingdom of God, then I must obey his command to take time every week to rest. Everyone’s lives and responsibilities are different, so I can’t tell you exactly what you need to do to make time in your schedule for rest. But the challenge for all of us is to intentionally live our lives so that we are obedient to the word of God. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work….” Exodus 20:8-10 (NIv) The coolest things about Dan DeMuri’s life are his wife Meghan, and two little girls, Adalyne and Holly. Oh, and he gets a front row seat to watch hundreds of fellow believers worship every Sunday. That’s pretty sweet, too… ddmuri@firstcov.org WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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thE hiGh COst OF LOVE by Heidi

Standing in my dining room, having just put all four of my kiddos to bed, I was suddenly faced with a free evening. While I thought about what to do, feelings began to surface from earlier that day… “I sacrificed everything for this?!” I lay on my bed and cried. A new friend had just come over to teach

me how to make a local dish. She speaks fluent English, and is the only friend that initiates calling and visiting me. But instead of enjoying it, I came away wondering “I traded a very privileged, lowstress life for a difficult, high-stress one. FOR THIS? If this is it, then I don’t know how long I will last here.” Sacrifice is trading something you value for something even more valuable. Yet, I am discouraged in my relationships this last year and a half, as I have mostly felt criticism from local friends: “You are doing this wrong.” “Why haven’t you done this?” “Why didn’t you do it this way?” There is deep loneliness in my life. It causes me to question: Do I value Jesus and what I have in him more highly than my personal happiness? God has made us all relational, especially me. I need deep friendships. But am I willing to learn what it means to endure until He brings me this? Lately, the sacrifice has felt heavy. A friend of ours says about living in India, “It’s not one big thing that will make you want to go home, it’s the THOUSAND little things.” And tonight, I am feeling them all. Higher stress level, heat, humidity, ants in the kitchen, maids that can’t clean, deliveries that never come, people that flake out when they say they will do something, constant stares, dressing myself from

head to toe whenever I am out of my home, pigeons taking over my balcony (again!), termites in my furniture, power outages spoiling the food in my fridge, inverters breaking, no deep friendships… Will I let the thousand little things send me home and throw in the towel on my sacrifice? Things haven’t turned out the way I expected. But does that mean that God didn’t expect this? Was my life not laid out before Him? Do I believe that woven into its fabric are His good plans? He knows something I don’t. Maybe I should, but I don’t. He knows that He is enough for me. He knows that if I knew His love, accurately, deeply, I could learn to endure a season of loneliness—maybe even a life of loneliness. Can I continue to give this sacrifice, looking forward to what I do not see? Just like my brothers and sisters in Hebrews, can I live the rest of my life a stranger–clinging to His undying love, hoping that someday it will come in fullness? Honestly, I don’t KNOW this love yet. Only love makes this worth it, otherwise, I have nothing. I have sacrificed it all for nothing. God tells us that to show Him our love, we must choose obedience (John 14, 15). But obedience to suffer? Is this how we love him in return? We share in his sufferings by dying our own slow death to all desires and needs. Day in and day out. We choose to die. We learn to love. To

communicate

love

cost

everything. Why wouldn’t it cost me everything? I am reminded of the passage we talked about with our kids last week, “Put on love” (Colossians 3:14). It is a choice, a practice—every day. And I realize that now I truly understand what the cost is. Now I can accurately count it. But am I willing to pay? I traded in my whole life—sacrificed it all. Yet, I still have to learn to love in radically different ways than I am capable of alone. I need the strength to choose love—over my flesh, my impatience, my anger, my comfort. I must know it—to understand that what I am sacrificing now will be more than worth it in the end. I want to know His love so deeply that everything my life exhales leaves behind the beautiful, costly fragrance of Christ. “Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13b (The Message) Heidi is a wife and mother of 4 who lives abroad in Northern India. When she is not homeschooling, you can find her escaping the routine of home to visit the royal desert palaces in Rajhastan, or walking on the beaches of Goa while sipping sweet fresh lime soda. She enjoys market hopping and capturing the colorful and contrasting world she lives in through her camera lens.

Jesus

Editor’s Note: Heidi recommends the following blog post by Christian artist, Shaun Groves, for further reflection on this topic. http://shaungroves.com/2012/05/downwardmobility/#post-comments

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LoIS HEATH

Role at FiRst Cov: I was the bookkeeper from 19892004. Now, I am the Human Resources Coordinator. FiRst set Foot on FiRst Cov: December of 1988. I had just moved to the Sacramento area from Monrovia. I already knew Pastor Ted and was anxious to come to First Cov.

MEET THE STAFF

coming home every day because he just loved us so much. I never doubted that. He was hard working and not only supported his own family, but extended family members as well. He was a great example. FavoRite pastimes/hoBBies: Reading, doing crossword puzzles and going for walks.

Joined staFF: September 12, 1989

FavoRite plaCe to eat: Fins Market on Madison. I love the crab cakes and clam chowder!

BiRthday: May 23, 1922

last movie you watChed: Fireproof

Family: I have two children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. I’m fortunate to have some family close by, but others live in San Francisco, San Diego and St. Louis. All of the California family members were here to celebrate my 90th birthday earlier this year.

wheRe do you want to visit: Austria. I have read a number of books about Austria and always love seeing the beautiful scenery in the photographs. at staRBuCks: Regular coffee. No sweetener. No creamer.

FavoRite sCRiptuRe: Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (NIV). Childhood heRo: My dad. I looked forward to him

WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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Ty and Melinda Lewis are long-time members of the First Cov family and each has a very vibrant faith. They are

LIVING THE ABUNDANT LIFE

parents of two children, one having special needs. We interviewed them to find out more about their family’s life

AN INTERVIEW WITH FRIENDS

C: Ty, how did you and Melinda meet? T: Melinda and I are actually high school sweethearts. We met in Anatomy and Physiology at Cordova High. She was the homecoming princess and I was a jock. C: Melinda, what was it like to date Ty? M: I became very interested in Ty because he was the only boy in high school that didn’t pay attention to me. It took a while to finally get together, but it really was amazing. I was smitten with my one and only boyfriend. My parents were separated and, like most high school girls with an absent father, my boyfriend became the reason for my existence. My whole identity was wrapped up in Ty. When Jesus stole my heart, my relationship with Ty became much more balanced. My identity was in Christ and He brought such wholeness, peace and security. Ty and I broke up for a while but then he got saved and we got back together. C: How did Ty propose? when did you get married? M: Ty proposed shortly before I was scheduled to go to Amsterdam on a six- month global outreach trip with Youth with a Mission. We were at my place and he wanted to read the Bible and asked me to turn to a passage. A beautiful solitaire ring was hidden in the pages and he proposed. I had already fasted and prayed at length about marrying him and was absolutely sure we were to marry. We got married on June 7, 1986. We asked all our unsaved friends to our wedding (including drug dealers and such) and we turned around after the opening remarks and gave our testimonies about the tremendous difference [Christ] had made in our lives. We urged our family and friends to consider Christ, the one true Savior. C: what was your faith like when you got married? T: Both Melinda and I were not raised in the church, so when Jesus came into our lives, we were radically changed. When we first

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COmpaSS maGaZIne

journey.


LIVING THE ABUNDANT LIFE

Top: Ty and Melinda Lewis

Bottom Left: Cetarra and Blair Bottom Right: Cetarra

WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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got married, I’d have to say Melinda was more committed than me. She was very involved in various ministries at our old church; serving everywhere she could: Jr. High group, women’s bible study, and as a camp counselor. If there was a need, she’d fill it. My maturity came a few years later after joining a men’s study where we learned to truly study the Bible and apply it to our everyday life. I eventually became a “self-feeder” for the first time in my Christian life. C: Tell us about your kids. T: Cetarra (aka Sissy) is our oldest child and was born with AS (Angelman Syndrome). Sissy is a 20 year old toddler without language. She is very busy and keeps us on our toes. Although it’s exhausting at times chasing her around, she’s the happiest child you’ve ever met. She always has a smile on her face and giggles constantly, whether she’s getting into something or not. She loves water—be it swimming pools, bathtubs, sinks, hoses etc. If there’s water, she’s looking to play in it! Our second child is Blair. He’s Cetarra’s 15 year old “big brother.” He’s the best brother a special needs girl could ever have. He loves her dearly and is a great help around the house with Sissy. Although we love Cetarra dearly, Blair has been our “healer” child. He has allowed Melinda and me to experience things “typical” children go through. Blair is a great athlete, playing both basketball and baseball at Capital Christian High School. He’s also an excellent student academically. Blair preached his first sermon in Mexicali this year. He’s slowly but surely becoming the man God’s called him to be. C: Tell us more about Sissy’s condition? M: AS is genetic, but not hereditary, and is a fairly rare condition. As Ty mentioned, she is like a very active 115 pound toddler! Angelman children have no verbal language skills, but make noises, like lots of giggling and squealing. Sissy has receptive language ability and understands some common words like “No, no” and “Let’s go bye-bye”. She is very perceptive. When we get off the freeway to come to church, she squeals like a little piggy in the back seat, with her arms

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flapping, anticipating that she is going to church to see her people! It’s adorable. C: when did you know that Sissy was a special needs child? what was your reaction? M: I hate that book, “What to Expect the First Year” because Sissy never met the milestones. Because she was our first child, we kept ourselves in denial, arguing that she would be a “late bloomer.” At 10 months, Cetarra had a funny little tremor when I was nursing her and my pediatrician said I should go to the neurologist to check it out. I took her to the appointment and in about 20 minutes, my life came crashing down as I had the “talk” with the doctor. Our life changed forever that day. I went to Ty’s office and when he saw the look on my face, he knew something was terribly wrong. Those first few years were almost unbearable as we grieved the life and child we expected to have. I put on a good face for everyone, but in my own home, the tears and depression crept in. I’ll never forget my mother telling me, “Read your Bible, Honey, even if you don’t feel like it”. She is a wise woman and the truth of God’s Word leaves me speechless. He promises abundant life, not just for the happily married couple or the family with typical children. No, His promises are for the widow, the childless couple and the mom of a severely disabled child. I know this to be true. C: Ty, what was your reaction to Sissy’s condition? T: When we got the diagnosis, I was struck by a deep pain that’s difficult to describe. It was as if I had experienced a death of some sort because Cetarra would never grow up to be the child I thought she would be. She would never play sports or go to her prom. No matter how much I tried to “fix things,” there was no changing this diagnosis. It was truly out of my control. But I decided that I would not be depressed for the rest of my life and committed to seek the Lord wholeheartedly for strength, encouragement and hope. And He has been faithful! C: what has been the biggest lesson that Sissy has taught you about God? M: Cetarra is our love letter from


LIVING THE ABUNDANT LIFE

"Cetarra is our love letter from

God. She will not accomplish anything according to the world’s economy. She will never talk, read or go to college. She will be utterly dependent on us for her lifetime, yet, we are immeasurably in love with her. I now get God’s love; I get that it is unconditional; I get it because of Cetarra. The other, equally incredible lesson that Cetarra has taught me is that we are sojourners. People tend to get too rooted here on earth and forget that this is not our home. [Sissy] has taught us to turn our hearts and lives toward heaven. Everything in our daily life, because of Sissy, is different than a typical American family. Sissy has really made me long for heaven; for our true home. [In heaven] we will live fully in the glory of Christ and we will see Sissy in the fullness of her glory, completely perfect, no longer marred by the limitations of her humanity.

God. She will not

accomplish anything according

to

the

world’s economy. She

will never talk, read or go to college. She will be utterly dependent on us for her lifetime, yet, we are immeasurably in love with her. I now get God’s love; I get that

C: what does it mean to you to seek first the kingdom of God in the midst of the busyness of life? T: It starts first with a daily walk with Jesus. I believe “quiet times” with the Lord are critical to an abiding relationship with Christ. I try to spend time every day in God’s Word and prayer. I’m not always successful, but I try. To me, “seeking first the kingdom” means trying to sift every major decision through the hands of God M: Religious activity does not always lead to spiritual maturity. We say “no” to many things and never commit to anything without first sifting it through prayer. The abiding life is our first

it is unconditional; I get it because of

Cetarra."

C: what is Sissy’s prognosis? T: Sissy should have a normal life expectancy but will never live independently. I have come to peace with this fact and harbor no bitterness or sadness. It’s simply God’s plan for our lives and I’ve learned not to question it. God promises to make “all things work together for good” for those who love God. Melinda and I have seen this truth time and time again as we have cared for Sissy. We wouldn’t be the committed believers we are today without our dear Sissy in our lives.

priority but it’s difficult to meditate on His Word, to wait, to listen and to pray, if we are involved in religious-related activity three to four nights a week. At least it’s difficult for us. Although we can’t mature as believers apart from community, spiritually mature believers spend large amounts of time with Christ, privately as well. The most important activity of my daily life is spending time with Christ. I always feel like the day was a success if I spent a significant amount of time with the Lord. C: How has First Cov helped you on your journey? T: First Cov has provided my family with Bible teaching that challenges me daily to live a more Christ-like life! In

addition, On Eagles Wings (the ministry to families with special needs children) has been a tremendous blessing to Melinda and me, allowing us to attend services together and focus on the teaching without having to care for Sissy during the preaching. First Cov has also provided Blair with a solid environment to develop his own relationship with Christ through Club 45, Middle School and High School ministries, and the Mexicali trip. M: First Covenant has helped me on my journey by providing rich fellowship and opportunities to serve. I have been stretched, humbled, and deeply shaped by serving the body of Christ and the community. And when I leave Sunday service, it is as if I have been filled with a deep, rich drink of water. mshetler@firstcov.org

WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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FALL EQUIPPING CLASSES

Equipping Classes 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. We’re excited about this session's topics and about the teachers who are investing so much to help us be better equipped followers of Jesus. We encourage you to read through the class descriptions, to pray about which one may be right for you, and to make a commitment to fully participate in the class. We pray that the Equipping Classes will be a part of significant growth in your life. There is no need to sign up for an equipping class. Just attend!

SUNDAY MORNING CLASSES September 16- October 21 • 10 am All You Can Eat!

Becoming a Self-Feeder Through Inductive Bible Study room 204 All too often, we look at our bible and think, “It’s too complicated!” or “I wish I knew how to get more out of it.” “All You Can Eat” is a fun and creative way to study scripture. If you want to learn to dig deep into scripture, to gain better understanding and application for your life, then this class is for you. Learning to do an inductive chart for studying the Bible is fun, easy, and most of all, a powerful tool to grow your faith as you learn to uncover biblical truth and application for life. TEACHER Tim Layfield is the Pastor to High School Students at First Covenant Church. He has been a pastor to teenagers for 15 years. Tim has spoken all across the country at camps, conferences and youth group gatherings. His passion is to see students and adults engage with God and become fully devoted followers of Jesus.

Discovering God’s Will

Making Wise, God-Centered Decisions room 210 “What should I do?” That is one of our most frequently asked questions regardless of our age or stage in life. We want clear direction for every decision―from deciding what career path to take, to how to invest our money, to how to solve relationship problems. The ability to discern God’s guidance and make Biblically-based decisions are two skills essential for every Christian. Using the book “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby as a guide, this

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class will aim to teach believers how to recognize God’s leading and live out His specific purposes for their lives.

tools to think through many difficult issues, as well as be prepared to give others the reason for the hope that is within you. TEACHER Kevin Vandergriff holds a BA in Philosophy (Emphasis in Logic and Science) and is currently working on an MA in Christian Apologetics. He is the Director of Ratio Christi at Sacramento State University.

A Study in the Life of Moses The Life of a Friend of God

room 204 This study in the life of Moses will explore the man born of a Hebrew mother and raised by an Egyptian pharaoh’s daughter. Moses was a reluctant leader called by God to fulfill His sovereign will for His people. This is not a verseby-verse study, but rather an event or incident-oriented study. The events take place around 1400 B.C. in the land of Egypt. TEACHER Curt Dickinson has been a Christian for 40 years. Prior to living in Sacramento, he served in previous churches as an AWANA Commander, Elder and Adult Sunday School teacher and has been involved in Growth Groups for over 30 years. He and his wife Sandy have been members of First Covenant Church for seven years and are trained as Growth Group leaders.

Love and Logic

Becoming a Love and Logic Parent

TEACHER Jen Raynes is a full-time staff member at First Cov, serving as an Administrative Assistant and Editor of the COMPASS Magazine. Before joining the church, Jen served as a Discipleship Training School (DTS) Director with YWAM in Australia. While working with YWAM, Jen also served as staff on their Basic Leadership School, leader of numerous global outreach trips, and was a regular lecturer. Jen has a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational/Interpersonal Communication, and is passionate about writing, mentoring, and teaching on the topics of Biblical worldview and discipleship.

chapel This study is designed to help both parents get on the same page in their parenting by learning practical techniques that will ideally lead to understanding their children, gaining family cooperation, and ultimately experiencing feelings of accomplishment that will result in a more fulfilling family life. The material is biblically-based and designed to provide practical opportunities to put these principles into action. The authors, Jim Fay, Foster Cline and Charles Fay, do a wonderful job of going step-bystep into ways that parents can challenge their children to be respectful, responsible and fun, as they relate within both their family and society.

A Practical Study of 1st John

TEACHERS Jeff & Betty Koons; David & Joy Nahigian(Love & Logic Parents); Rosie Dittrich(Trained Love & Logic Teacher)

Learning to Live the Right Way

room 205 The short letter of 1st John demonstrates in practical and straightforward terms how our faith impacts our daily lives. This “truth” is revealed in everyday lives and everyday circumstances―giving us hope, strength and confidence that we truly have eternal life through Jesus Christ living in us. TEACHER Mike Daly is a former pastor and teacher who desires for people to enter into a deep and fulfilling relationship with God. He and his wife Jane have been part of First Cov since 2011.

The Reason for the Hope Within

How to be Prepared to Give an Answer to the Existence of God room 203 This six week tour de force will survey leading arguments for the existence of God, as well as offer reasons why so-called “good arguments” against the existence of God simply do not exist. We will be covering such areas as modern cosmology, metaethics, burial practices during first century Judaism, pain and suffering, divine hiddenness, and more. You will come away with the

The Celebration of Discipline The Path to Spiritual Growth

room 200 For six weeks, we are going to dig into this classic by Richard Foster to learn more about the spiritual disciplines. We will be talking about how the spiritual disciplines can liberate you in your Christian walk and set you on a pathway to continuous growth as a Christian. We will cover all three parts of the book: The Inward Disciplines, the Outward Disciplines and the Corporate Disciplines. We will define each discipline, give practical instruction and assign weekly reading / practice as we work our way through the text. Every Christian should understand these core disciplines and be able to practice them. If you are looking to go deeper in your walk in a practical manner, this class is for you! TEACHER Bryan Krenzin is a member and Elder of First Covenant Church. He has a BA in Church Leadership, along with 8 years experience as an Associate Pastor. He will passionately equip you to live out your faith in a fallen world.


Growth Group Leader Training The Beauty of Community

room 206 Growth Groups are one of the main vehicles for community and discipleship at First Covenant Church. For Growth Groups to be effective, however, they must have trained and continually supported leaders who multiply new leaders. This leader training is essential so that others can experience the beauty of Biblical community, where the two-pronged focus of growing (doing Gospel-centered life together) and sharing (intentionally showing and sharing the message of Jesus) are taking place in group life. This class recasts the vision of Growth Groups, as well as equips possible future leaders to live out the Gospel, in community, on mission. TEACHER Matt Newton is the Growth Groups Pastor here at First Cov. He has been on staff for 8 years. In addition, he is also on the journey of learning to live a life centered on the Gospel, in community and on mission for Jesus.

Women’s Wednesday Night

September 19 – November 14 6:30 – 8:00 pm, Chapel Malachi

A Love that Never Lets Go!

God won’t walk away! Even on our worst day, God won’t leave us. Explore God’s unchanging love in Malachi, Lisa Harper’s first video-driven Bible study. Reading Malachi is kind of like perusing the script for a theater production. Instead of plain, straightforward text, Malachi presents his message in the form of dramatic dialogues with a cast of characters as colorful as a Jerry Springer show. As a result, this study formatted in the theater theme, encourages you to get into this divinely engaging story line – to imagine the wreckage of Israel during this period of history, and the actual people who were waving their fists in the air and complaining to God about their circumstances. If you’ve got drama then this study is for you! Today, perhaps more than any other time in modern history, our lives are filled with sorrow, fatigue, family issues and challenges. This study offers you a safe place to let it all hang out, to find hope through the exploration of God’s undeniable affection, and to walk a little lighter and closer to Jesus as a result. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Introduction: When your life feels broken God’s declaration of affection Going big or going home Our Creator – a committed family man When divine grace masquerades as discipline Meager investments – miraculous returns The promise of pirouetting livestock Closing Malachi

TEACHER Glenda Harr is First Cov’s Director of Counseling and Women’s Ministries and has been on our staff for eight years.

Women’s Thursday Morning

Wednesday Evening For Children

September 20 – November 15 10:00 -11:30 am, CHAPEL

September 19 – November 14 (No Class on October 31), 6:15 – 8:15 pm

Malachi

A Love that Never Lets Go! See previous description.

TEACHER Glenda Harr is First Cov’s Director of Counseling and Women’s Ministries and has been on our staff for eight years.

Men’s Wednesday Night

September 19 – November 14 6:30 – 8:00 pm, Chapel The Man God Uses By Henry Blackaby

This class is for every man who is eager to know and understand God’s plan and purpose for their life. This study will use a daily guide to encourage Christian men to examine personal encounters with the Father and to follow His will in ALL areas of life – at home, work, church, and in the community. We will share in large group teaching/ interaction, food, fellowship and small group discussion and prayer.

TEACHER Jeff Koons is Pastor of Family & Men’s Ministry here at First Covenant, and has over 25 years of teaching and ministry experience. Jeff is married to Betty and has an adult daughter and 2 teenage boys. Ty Lewis has been teaching the Bible for 25 years and has a desire to see people grow in their passion for following Christ. He has a degree in Business Administration and works as a Section Chief for EDD. He is married to Melinda and has 2 teenage children.

Sunday Morning For Teens

September 16- October 21 10 am, Room 215

Divorce Care

This class is designed to encourage and empower teens who have experienced the divorce or separation of their parents, teaching them to deal with their feelings, fears, and emotions. It is also designed to equip students to care for friends who may be going through this difficult season. It is very common for teens to encounter a variety of conflicting emotions during this time. Many react with anger, withdrawal and intense pain. Many carry these unresolved emotions into their own futures. Because of the divorce or separation of their parents, teens find themselves in a hopeless situation that they did not choose. Many teens carry this “hopelessness” into their futures and unresolved emotions can carry over into their own families one day.

Kids Klub is our midweek Equipping Class designed especially for children. Kids Klub overlaps the adult Equipping Classes on Wednesday nights, allowing parents to study in their classes worry-free. All coaches and leaders have been screened, completed an application and background check.   Advanced registration is not required, but all children must have a signed and completed medical release and registration form before they are able to attend. These forms are available online at www.firstcov.org under our Children’s Ministries page. Just follow the Kids Klub link.   The evening begins with games, worship, prayer, and experiencing a Bible story in a way that students can understand and learn to apply God’s truths to their lives.   After the main session, children will be dismissed to one of two electives: Bible Boot Camp (extension of the Bible lesson) or Children’s Choir. While in their electives, students will have opportunity to apply the biblical truths presented in the Bible lesson. At the end of the night, the students come together for snack, devotion, prayer, and reflection. KIDS KLUB Electives Bible Boot Camp

This 8-week course will help students learn that God’s wisdom is available to all who ask for it. During our time, students will learn that we can gain wisdom through God’s word and that when we live a life using Godly wisdom, we will experience great blessings in all areas of our lives. KIDS KLUB is offered for 1st - 3rd grade. Cost: $5 Children’s Choir

Children’s Choir is open to students 1st - 5th grade.  The choir will have the opportunity to perform at the Christmas Around the World Festival and the Christmas Mall in December. Cost: $5   Club 45: Apex Kids in 4th and 5th grade Club 45 is our program designed specifically for pre-teen students (4th and 5th graders). In addition to learning about Jesus and what the Bible says, students will learn how to apply these truths to their everyday lives and thus grow in their relationship with the Lord. Lessons provide relevancy, as well as hands-on application. By making the learning process hands-on and interactive, students are most likely to apply these biblical concepts to their lives.   Jr. Kids Klub: Making Choices Kids ages 4 - Kindergarten This interactive program is geared specifically to this younger age group and will include Bible stories, puppets, games and crafts. Our nursery will also be open for children 6-weeks to 3 years old for those parents wishing to participate in the adult Equipping Classes. Cost: $5

TEACHER Will Race is the Pastor of Middle School Ministries at First Cov. He has been working in youth ministry for 13 years. He and his wife Brandi have three children.

WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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“Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins... For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

HowB y Much Is Enough? H e a t he r M e y e r s

- Luke 21:2,4 (NLT)

The story of the widow’s mite has always fascinated and challenged me. She gave sacrificially and Jesus was pleased. My husband and I have served in Indonesia over the last 14 years and throughout that time, God has challenged us constantly. But this last year, he showed us what it really meant to give sacrificially through the life of Yetti.

exact same thing to eat, this time with the simple addition of a can of sardines. The meal was followed by another hour spent in praying and praising God for his goodness and provision. During the next four days the menu never changed, yet neither did the prayer and praise. Yetti’s son was 11 years old and he never complained.

Yetti is in her late 30s and she began volunteering daily to help our team compile and produce Sunday School materials. She is a quiet, unobtrusive woman who exudes peace. Yetti is willing to serve in any way she can— from printing pictures for the stories to cutting out figures for crafts.

Yetti had no income and her husband worked outside of the city, still not making enough to support his family. Still, Yetti volunteered her time to serve God and others. She opened her home to share what little she had. She was grateful and thankful for all God provided.

When Yetti came to work in our office, we had a young Indonesian woman named Elsa living with us. I was going on a trip out of the city, so Elsa needed a place to stay while I was gone. Yetti volunteered her home. After my trip, Elsa told me that she was appalled, amazed, and challenged by what she saw while living with Yetti. For dinner on the first night, Yetti, her son and Elsa shared a package of noodles (like Ramen) and some greens. After dinner, the three took time to praise God through song and prayer. The following morning, they had the

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“If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion--how can God’s love be in that person?” -1 John 3:17 (NLT) Jim and I were so challenged by Yetti’s life and faith-filled attitude that we began giving her a little bit of money each week to help provide for some of her needs. After 3-4 months, she began working with our team part time for about $45/ month. Within these last 3 months, she has become full-time, making almost $100/month. When Jim and I were

leaving for furlough last March, Yetti came up to us with an envelope. She told us that she was praying for us and wanted to help with our ministry. Later, we opened the envelope she’d given us to find $25—a quarter of her salary. We were floored and humbled. 1 Timothy 6:6 says that “…true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” Verse 8 goes on to encourage us “So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content” (NLT). With a thankful spirit and a generous heart, Yetti is truly one of the wealthiest women I know. Jim and Heather Meyers (and their 7 year old son, KJ) are our Global Outreach Partners serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators. They have had the privilege of serving in Indonesia for the last 14 years. Jim is an avid basketball player. Heather enjoys reading books and would be lost without her Kindle. KJ loves rescuing and taking care of animals (they’ve looked after frogs, turtles, geckos, snakes, and cats). He also loves ‘Nasi Goreng’ for breakfast (steamed yellow rice served with an egg, fish or chicken).


Smooshing half a cockroach on my face in the middle of the night. Trying to search for the rest of that cockroach with a flashlight. Waking up to the sound of the Muslim call to prayer at 4:30 AM (“Aaallllaaaahhu Akbar. Aaallllaaaahhu Akbar”). Eating rice and weeds for breakfast. Certainly sounds like the life of someone who has given up the ‘American Dream’... doesn’t it?" Electricity going out just as it gets dark. Dripping sweat in 97 degree heat with 91% humidity (and no air conditioning). Mosquitos buzzing in my ear as I try to sleep. Smooshing half a cockroach on my face in the middle of the night. Trying to search for the rest of that cockroach with a flashlight. Waking up to the sound of the Muslim call to prayer at 4:30 AM (“Aaallllaaaahhu Akbar. Aaallllaaaahhu Akbar”). Eating rice and weeds for breakfast. Certainly sounds like the life of someone who has given up the ‘American Dream’ in order to ‘seek first the Kingdom of God, doesn’t it? This is someone who suffers for the sake of the gospel. My first few years “on the field” were spent toughing out a new language, new culture, no friends and no local spiritual support structure. I was so far out of my comfort zone that I had no choice but to rely on God for strength. I was pursuing God’s purpose for my life in SE Asia.

But, as time went on, I was able to adapt. Gradually those things that were once difficult became easier. Life began to settle. Then, I realized I wanted to make life a bit more comfortable—a nice house, a nice motorcycle, home entertainment options, etc. Ten years later, I felt more at home in Asia than the U.S. Without even realizing it, I began pursuing those things just as much I pursued ministry. In all honesty, it was more than that. In some ways, ministry started to take second place to making my life more comfortable. Even living in a third world country, I realized I hadn’t really given up the American Dream. I still had PROSPERITY (I was far more rich than anyone else around me), PRIDE (I wanted to be the hero who ‘saved’ a people group, rather than let Jesus be the hero) and SUCCESS (the locals looked up to me just because I was white, Christians looked up to me just because I served “on the field.” I realized

if I still sought out the American Dream in SE Asia, it must run pretty deep. Deeper than culture, these desires for prosperity, pride and success seem rooted in sinful human nature. Although we may not pursue the American Dream consciously, we must fight it consciously. We have to die to ourselves daily and seek to put our lives under the authority and direction of our King all the time. It certainly isn’t bad to enjoy life on earth. But ask yourself this question: ‘Has making my life more comfortable caused my passion for the Kingdom of God to decrease?’ If it has, get rid of those things that drag you down and prevent you from pursuing God’s purposes for your life. Learn with me, my dear brothers and sisters: ‘Seek first’, but don’t try to steal second too.

living the american dream in south east asia

B y j im M e y e r s Jungle Jim and his wife Heather have served as global outreach partners in South East Asia since 1998. Besides swinging in the teak trees, they have managed to help train nationals from four different language groups to do Bible translation for their own people. Although he says you would be surprised at how little he actually knows about the Bible, Jim is now a translation consultant for these teams. jim_meyers@kastanet.org

WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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sEEKiNG FiRst = ChaNGiNG thE WaY i PRaY

By Jane Daly

Dear God, please bless my family God, bless this meal God, please provide for my needs God, help my husband get that job God, please don’t let my son die My prayers are selfish. I pray for my own convenience, safety, security and serenity. I have treated God like a genie--assuming I could just rub a bottle, say a few spiritual words and (poof!), my prayers would be answered. Didn’t God say “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you?” Well… I go to church. I listen to Christian radio. I even listen to the podcast of the sermon if I miss church. Now that’s dedication. Surely, I’m seeking first the Kingdom. So where are all the things that are supposed to be added unto ME? Why did my husband lose his job, practically on the eve of his hip replacement operation, after twelve years with the same employer? Why did I get laid off from my job and have to take a position at less than half of my previous salary? Why did we get sued by the developer of the property we bought in Mexico? Why did our twenty-nine year old son get cancer – again? Why did he die? I didn’t think that the part of the verse “all these things will be added unto you” meant trials, tribulations and inconveniences. Honestly, seeking God and His Kingdom doesn’t always result in the things we think it should. Sometimes I don’t understand the circumstances that come into my life. But through my decision to allow God to take over my life, I automatically received all of His inheritance. I don’t get to pick and choose which parts of His inheritance that I want. I gave up the right to say which things that I inherit are “good” and which are “bad.” Seeking first the Kingdom of God means that sometimes I will be called on to do things that are painful. Like sitting with my son during the final days of his life, watching him slowly slip away. I can’t pretend to know God’s plan, but I am assured that his death didn’t take God by surprise. The number of Bobby’s days were written in His Book of Life. As much as I miss him, I know that Bobby is now pain-free and rejoicing in the presence of his Savior. In seeking God’s Kingdom through these difficult years, my prayer life has changed. I no longer pray the “Please bless so-and-so” prayers. Now I pray that each person on my prayer list will experience God’s power and presence in new and powerful ways. I pray that in each circumstance, that person will see Christ. My prayer is that as they too seek first the Kingdom, they won’t be shaken by the inconveniences, disappointments and pain that often come as a result of seeking Him first. I have found that God always brings something beautiful out of the ashes of our loss; something so beautiful that we could never imagine it on our own. Jane Daly and her husband Mike have attended First Covenant for a little over a year. After the death of their son, they found a great deal of comfort through GriefShare and were encouraged to attend the church that sponsored the support group. Jane is an avid writer and hopes to have her first Women’s Fiction manuscript published soon. jane@janesdaly.com

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ScoTT WALDRoN

FiRst set Foot on FiRst Cov Campus:

I remember it very clearly. It was An Evening In December, 1993—the show with the monks. There are many longtimers who will know exactly what that means.

and I also take part in the annual ACTS service days the church has and we help out with Men’s Ministry projects when they come up. Last year, we volunteered as a family and served together at the Easter Carnival, the Christmas Mall and Christmas Around the World. PHEW!

aCCepted ChRist:

February 20, 1994, just a few months after An Evening in December! Inviting people to church events really works. pRoFession:

I am an elementary school teacher. I recently moved to 5th grade after finishing a 10-year stint in kindergarten. The students are way more independent, but they don’t smell as good!

MEET AN ELDER

Family:

"I am an elementary school teacher.   I recently moved to 5th grade after finishing a 10-year stint in kindergarten.   The students are way more independent, but they don’t smell as good!"

My beautiful wife Robin and I have been married for 16 years. My son Spencer just finished 5th grade and will be moving to middle school. He attends the same school at which I teach. The great thing is that our school goes through 8th grade. Spencer has been there since preschool so we’ll have 10 years of being together on the same campus—what a blessing! Our family can be pretty boring relative to others, but we love simply playing games together and hanging out at home. If we can mix in a game time at Starbucks, so much the better. what otheRs should know aBout FiRst Cov:

I wish others would realize how many opportunities this church provides for people to put their spiritual gifts and Godgiven talents to use. The pastors and staff are more than willing to put people to work serving the body of Christ and the community at large. Giving of yourself in service is one of the many pleasures of faith in Christ. FavoRite BiBle stoRy:

I love Paul’s story, although not a “story” in the sense of beginning and end. I just love how this one- time sinner and persecutor of Christians is redeemed and becomes the greatest Christian missionary we’ve ever known. It perfectly illustrates what can happen when you come face to face with the living God. He will transform you.

FavoRite spoRt to play:

I love to run. I am so blessed to live near the river and Lake Natoma to enjoy God’s beauty while exercising. Some people wouldn’t call that a sport, but I do run about one race a year, and it’s definitely a sport when you compete against others. FavoRite spoRt to watCh:

In person, I like to watch baseball (go Dodgers!) but football is a better television experience because there are so many things happening that you can’t follow it all in person. Oh! I forgot about NASCAR. I really love to watch racing and I’ve been to the Sonoma race the last 3 years. a peRFeCt weekend:

Let’s see...Family Pizza and Movie Night on Friday. A Saturday morning run with Rob. A day trip with the family or game time at Starbucks, maybe. Church on Sunday morning when Spencer and I are ushering and Robin is singing. A NASCAR race or a football game with a tasty lunch for the afternoon. Our weekly family devotional on Sunday night. That’s actually a pretty normal weekend for us. I told you I was boring. most ReCent musiC download:

Interestingly, it was something a bit older. A friend let me have The Beatles Anthology (It’s 6 discs) so I just put that on last week. I don’t really buy much music anymore because I use Spotify to listen to just about anything I want. I do buy anything that Mat Kearney puts out though. last Clothing puRChase:

I honestly can’t remember the last actual piece of clothing I bought, so I’ll go with running shoes. Does that count?

involvement at FiRst Cov:

I have served in Men’s Ministry leadership for so long now that I don’t really remember how long it’s been. Robin just finished a long run as coordinator of the Moms Connection ministry on Tuesday mornings. You can also see her singing a couple of times a month at the 10:00 and 11:30 services. Spencer and I usher every 3 months. I’m sure you’ve seen the child usher at times—that’s us! Spencer WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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TO DO OR NOT TO DO:

LEARNING TO DEVELOP CHRIST-LIKE BOUNDARIES By Jayne williams

Boundaries are borders we establish to keep people in or out of our lives. According to Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud, authors of the bestselling book “Boundaries,” we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and is not, what problems we should take on and what we should say “no” to. How does the life of Christ offer us a healthy example of boundaries? Jesus’ first boundaries were set in the context of his family--Joseph, Mary, and later, his brothers and sisters. They were

responsible for caring and protecting him from unhealthy situations and people. In that safe, loving home, while his earthly father taught him the art of carpentry, his heavenly Father prepared his heart for ministry steeped in eternal value. At 30, Jesus was baptized and went into the wilderness to spend 40 days and 40 nights for that essential preparation. It was there that his boundaries would expand dramatically to make room for those to whom he would one day minister. Temptations came that for most of us would have been unbearable. But it was the victory of the test where his boundaries were established and strengthened. Through that wilderness experience, it was clearly distinguished what his mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual responsibilities were and were not. From that point on, Jesus’ boundaries were stretched as he opened his heart to those who wanted to be part of his new kingdom--the pure in heart, wounded, sick and poor.

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Only the Pharisees (hypocrites) and those who intentionally wanted to cause trouble were kept on the other side of his boundary. Inside his boundary, we see that Jesus built intimate relationships with his disciples, had mercy on people others judged, and allowed a part of his power to be taken by a woman with an issue of blood so that she would be set free. Jesus was discerning about what situations he got involved in and who specifically he chose to spend time with and invest in. He did not allow himself to get overwhelmed by the chaotic lives of others, but learned to live within healthy boundaries given to him by his heavenly Father.

gain the wisdom to understand what our responsibilities are or are not.

We may not have grown up in a peaceful home where trust, honesty and integrity were taught or modeled. Our young world may not have been safe. For some of us, our earliest boundaries may have been confusing, full of anxiety, or completely non-existent. Yet, whatever we have suffered, we know that our Father will use those difficult seasons to make us “fishers of men and women” with eternal value. As we experience victory in our trials, we can

Jayne Williams is a wife, mother, grandmother, a Lay Counselor, an Outreach Chaplain and the coordinator of Celebrate Recovery. One of First Cov’s most enthusiastic teachers, she recently taught a powerful Sunday morning Equipping Class on the book “Healing is a Choice” by Stephen Arterburn.

Don’t allow a painful past to keep you from seeking and receiving Christ’s mercy over the guilt and shame of unhealthy boundaries. There is help for you every Thursday night with people who have embraced a journey of new examples and new understanding in Christ. At “Celebrate Recovery,” we provide loving leadership and focus on how to develop healthy boundaries like Jesus. You’re invited every Thursday, 7-9 p.m. in the chapel. For more information contact Jayne Williams at (916)769-5162.

jayne1williams@yahoo.com


CROOKED BACK ON THE STRAIGHT PATH

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV) Staying on the straight and narrow path takes daily perseverance, slowly forming our character to be more like Christ. A few months ago, my regular migraine headaches and I decided to visit a Chiropractic Doctor. Dr. Bob told me that our spinal health affects our entire body because it is the connection between our brains and everything else. By re-aligning

By Jessica Stoner

“aligned” by the Holy Spirit in order to make us like Christ. Have you ever had the sudden realization of a sinful habit that you have previously been unaware of? Maybe it is so slight, that in comparison to the ways of the world, you don’t even recognize: complaining, having a bad attitude, gossiping or being ungrateful. When we compare ourselves to Jesus (after all, Jesus is the standard set for us), our crookedness is painfully obvious. This past week I have been tempted not to honor my husband. I was unaware of this temptation, but when a specific situation surfaced, I had to face this issue in my heart! Now, my husband is extremely easy going, always making sure I feel free

the spine to be straighter, our bodies can begin to heal, and unusual aches and pains (like my headaches), can disappear. One of the worst things about receiving the prescribed adjustments is the changing of what is called “muscle memory.” There are a few places in my back that the vertebrae have been misaligned for such a while that the muscles surrounding these points have become strong in all the wrong ways, to compensate for the uneven weight distributed by my crooked back. Because my muscles “remember” how they have developed in this wrong fashion, when the chiropractor adjusts my spine, my muscles are sore for several days. On the outside, my back does not look crooked at all. Yet, this

to disagree with his opinions. There have been only two times that he has had a specific preference that he kindly requested me to follow— even if I disagreed with it. The first was easy, because I didn’t disagree with his preference. But the second ignited a wild stallion within me to rebel. It was such a small thing that he requested, but because it was opposite from my perspective, it rubbed against my pride. I even asked a few family members their opinion on what I should do, if they thought his request was reasonable. These people encouraged my prideful self to not follow my husband’s request because it was not a big deal. This was definitely a mistake—and I felt terrible because I knew Jesus was calling me to a higher standard. Regardless of how little or different

unseen condition has been causing me to live with pain and chronic headaches. My muscles are at war with the corrections being made to my spine. But without repeated adjustments for a period of time, the strength of those muscles would end up pushing my bones back to their crooked state. This whole experience reminds me of our own sinful nature that is at war with God’s Spirit inside of us. It takes daily choices of obedience and submission to God in order to follow Christ and become like him. If we fix our eyes on Jesus in every aspect of life, we slowly begin to see and feel the “adjustments” that God is making in us. The Word of God is the straight path, and our sinful nature must constantly be put to death, or

my husband’s request was, why wouldn’t I just honor him and choose to follow his request? It certainly wasn’t anything that would draw me away from God. It was then that I realized that my heart and mind are unfortunately more often in line with the ways of the world than with God’s standards. My pride was crushed! It can be quite painful to re-align our thoughts and habits with God’s Word. Not only is it painful, but impossible without the redemptive work of Christ. I am in such desperate need of God’s grace and forgiveness to grow and mature in my life. I am choosing to rejoice in the death of my pride and sinful nature from this little trial, and will persevere in my faith so that I may be more mature and complete in Jesus.

Jessica Stoner is a twenty-something wife and new mommy who desires to have a Christ-centered household. Jessica loves First Cov for its many opportunities for discipleship with people of all ages. Having just completed her college degree this past spring, she now fills her time learning to sprout her own grains and seeds, reading books and attempting to make her own household products. This is her idea of fun :) jessica.nau1@gmail.com

WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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stirring Up

stewardship in Our kids by Fred Hammer

In 20 years of children’s ministry, I have witnessed all kinds of family dynamics. I have seen children raised in the church make bad choices and go astray. I have also seen children raised on the streets, surrounded by drugs and violence, make good choices. Seeing these situations and stories firsthand, it is clear to me that we do not change the hearts of our children to be more godly simply by changing their environment. We need to seek to influence the transformation of a child’s heart as much as we work to create outward change. So, just how does a parent CULTIVATE the soil of your child’s heart? We must make it a priority to get insight into our children’s hearts by taking sufficient time in our daily lives to build that relationship and see what’s going on in their inner lives. Through taking this time, we learn what is important to them and what areas we can disciple them in. When our children are young, we do this by simply being present and available. Support them at their school plays, soccer games or dance recitals. When we walk in the door from an exhausting day of work, we give them the hug, play catch in the backyard or stop and look at the picture they drew for us. The bottom line is, if you don’t spend time with your children, you won’t be available when opportunities arise to live out God’s word. From there, we must PLANT God’s story of love in their hearts. We need to read the Bible and communicate it with our kids over the course of everyday life. Through studying Scripture, we can point out that God designed them as a unique masterpiece. Remind them that God has a purpose for their lives and has made them just as they are in anticipation of seeing them fulfill His purpose. When we notice and affirm each child’s unique gifting, we make a connection between that gifting and the truth that God has created them to fulfill a special purpose.

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We must also teach children to be good stewards of their talents and begin looking for ways the Lord can use the gifts He gave them. For the past six years, First Cov has taken 3rd-5th grade students to the Bay Area on a Global Outreach Trip to serve food to the homeless and perform various service projects. Just as we urge adults to “get out of their comfort zone,” we must encourage kids to as well. Through this short, but significant, experience, kids get a powerful picture of what it means to serve like Jesus. A vital part of our parenting is to watch out for these opportunities and get our kids involved. Need ideas? How about volunteering at the Cordova Food Locker handing out Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets? Or working together at the Christmas Mall? Or decorating a car trunk for the Harvest Carnival to pass out candy? By giving our children opportunities to serve others, we are able to create a desire within them to use their gifts for God’s glory. When God tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that he has prepared good works for us “in advance for us to do” (NIV), we need to recognize that that is a command for our kids too! Teach them to steward their talents wisely by helping them invest in Kingdom work. Even the simplest of volunteer work can make a tremendous impact on your kids, your family and the world! Over the past 20 years of working in children’s and youth ministries, Fred Hammer has had all sorts of unique experiences, from being “slimed” to dressing up like a partridge in a pear tree. When not keeping a watchful eye on everyone else’s kids, he enjoys spending time with his wife Stacey, and their children Brendan (13) and Ashlee (11), usually on the soccer field! fhammer@firstcov.org


Retreating Into You By Sarah King As simply as Zaccheus and the fishermen. I want to trust your decisions Without questioning your judgment or your wisdom. I wasn’t expecting this Not expecting this at all But I trust you, so I’ll roll with it. My life is not my own, after all; it is yours I want that kind of 180-degree change that so many before me have had I want my life to look as different from my old life As Paul’s did from Saul’s. I’m retreating into you Not knowing my future But knowing the One who holds it. Forgive me of my idols

Forgive me of the worthless things I have poured my life into Poured my heart into My time My money My friendships. Just like all my favorite historical figures in the Bible Walked away from their various treasures The instant you told them to. I am following their footsteps, Lord. I am instantly obeying. No second-guessing. Since it’s your voice, I’ll obey Even with tears. Since it’s your knowledge, your heart, your hand in this I will follow you. But catch me now as I’m falling into you Retreating into you.

Be my treasure. I want no friend, no romance, no job, no ambition, no project To become an idol. I want you and you only. Help me lay everything else by the wayside. I’m retreating into you Because I want that intimacy back The intimacy I once shared with you The childlike trust I once had in you The laughter that came so easily The lack of stress, the lack of worry You remember the days, God, The days when my life was founded on the rock, And not on the shifting sand. Take me back to that place Because I’m here, retreating into you.

Sarah King is a writer and blogger who advocates for victims of human trafficking. She is soon to publish an autobiography of her escape from prostitution and the redemptive power of the blood of Jesus. First Covenant has been her home since 2003. WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG

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