Alive to Godâ€™s Desire | 4 Hope and Home | 6 Transformation of a Murderer | 8
Dear Friends at First Pres, As we move into a new year, it is time to gather around a study of one of the great letters of the New Testament—the letter to the Ephesians. I love Ephesians. Within it, Paul wants the church in Ephesus to be reminded of the great truths of our faith. We will study the first half in January and February (this half is doctrinal and explanatory) and will once again go over the very foundation of the Gospel—being saved by grace. All through the winter, we will see that we have come from death to life through the work of Jesus Christ. During the season of Lent, we will study the second half of Ephesians. These latter chapters are about Christian behavior and attitudes. It is a perfect fit for the Lenten season. The book of Ephesians expresses the truth found in our new Vision Statement: “Alive to God’s Desire.” We will rediscover how we are alive in the grace of Jesus. And that our being alive is not just for ourselves; it moves us into God’s desire for our lives and his Kingdom. While there will be teaching in each sermon on Sundays, deeper discussion in small communities will be available during this series. We will ask people to study the early chapters of Ephesians in a small group setting through January and February, with opportunity to keep meeting through Lent. Being in community around God’s Word is vitally necessary for our growth as Christians! Many of you are already in small groups and an idea for you is to simply let Ephesians be your study for this winter. If you do not presently have a small group to call your own, this study will afford a great opportunity. Groups will form in the next weeks and can gather on Wednesday nights at the church with childcare available. Or you could put a group together in your home on any night of the week. See if God might call you to join with other members of the First Pres family as we become “Alive to God’s Desire” together in 2011. In Christ,
Jim Singleton, Senior Pastor First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs
FIRST PRES M
january 2011 contents Alive to God’s Desire: A Vision for Us . . . 4 Paul Parsons Hope & Home: A Success Story . . . . . . 6 Martha Callbeck Transformation of a Murderer . . . . . . 8 Hugh Eaton
in every issue
Alive to God’s Desire: Community . . . . 10 Nicole Lowell E-News and Worship . . . . . . . . . . 11
Contributing Writers: Martha Callbeck, Hugh Eaton, Paul Parsons, Jim Singleton Contributing Editors: Nicole Lowell, Alison Murray Graphic Design: Beryl Glass, Mark Rantal
Proofreading Team: Christine Dellacroce, Daisy Jackson, Sandy Johnson, Marty Kelley, Karen Kunstle, Linda Pung, Gretchen Murphy-Bowman, Jennifer White All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. First Pres Magazine January 2011, Volume Three, © First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs, CO. Published by First Presbyterian Church, a non-profit organization. To contact First Pres Magazine: 719-884-6162 or 219 E. Bijou Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80903-1392 or email@example.com. Printed in the U.S.A.
t the Urbana Missionary Conference in 1976, Elisabeth Elliot told a story about a Welsh shepherd named John Jones and his dog Mack. One day, Elisabeth watched the two working together to move a herd of sheep from one pasture to another. Mack, a champion Scottish border collie, was in his glory. This is what he was made for. This is why God put him on earth. It was a marvelous thing to see him circling to the left, circling to the right, chasing, barking, herding, guiding, protecting, always with his eyes on the sheep and his ears attuned to the whistle in the mouth of the good shepherd. Mack, Elisabeth was saying, was utterly, wonderfully, beautifully ALIVE. And in particular, he was ALIVE TO HIS MASTER’S DESIRE. His shepherd’s passion was Mack’s passion. 4 | www.first-pres.org | 1/11
By Paul Parsons And nothing could have made him happier; he never stopped wagging his tail. This is at the very heart of the vision to which we believe God has led First Pres: “Alive to God’s Desire.” This theme will guide the preaching series from January through Lent. It will be the content of our Sermon-Based Small Communities we will also begin in January. The Vision will soon mark everything that we do. It answers the question, “What is First Pres seeking to be and to do?” (In contrast, our Mission Statement, Love, Grow, Go-Together, answers the question “How will we get to our Vision?”) Our Vision focuses on life, as Jesus talks about it in the Gospel of John. This life, we
Alive to God’s Desire:
A Vision for Us
discover, is what happens when we are in communion with the living God. His life flows into ours, like the life that moves from the vine into the branches. It is a picture of where God is going—the restoration of all creation, beginning with the crown of creation—human beings like you and me. Being alive speaks of being dynamic, engaged, participating and fully present—you can’t be alive and be passive consumer! It means being increasingly set free from the curse of sin, which is what Jesus is referring to when he says “abundant life” (John 10:10). Romans 8 tells us that as we are set free, the whole creation rejoices. It will be seen in healings, emotional breakthroughs, people being fed, Good News dispelling unbelief, demons being cast out, despots being cast down, and the transformation of people into the likeness of Christ.
Our Vision arises out of God’s desire. Nothing is more important than the passion of the living God, that passion out of which comes the Passion of Jesus Christ. In other words, our lives re-center around the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Every desire in the heart of God is carried out and made possible through the cross of Christ Jesus. And this cross makes possible for us to be taken up into the very life of God, into the experience of the mind of Christ and the heart of the Father. What this means practically for us as a congregation is that we will be looking for what God is doing in our midst, in our neighborhoods, in our city, and in our world. What he desires, he enacts. With eyes of faith, we will begin to see the Spirit of God on the move, his Kingdom breaking in all around us, in our city, in our church, in our region, in the world. And he is inviting us to get in line with what he is doing, as opposed to just coming up with interesting ideas of our own. The result, of course, is that as we are taken up into his heart and passion, we will come alive. Like Mack. As Elisabeth watched this beautiful creature in full bloom, she asked Mari, John’s wife, if the sheep had any idea of what was going on. “Not a clue,” Mari said. “And what about the dog?” Elisabeth asked. She later said, “I will never forget Mari’s answer. She said, ‘The dog doesn’t understand the pattern, only obedience.’” And, I must add, love. Mack understood obedience, because of how much he loved the shepherd. He was alive to God’s passion. He carried it within his blessed and fruitful heart. That’s what you and I have been fashioned for. That’s what First Pres has been created and designed for. And that’s where he’s leading us right here, right now, for the sake of our suffering world. It makes you want to be a sheepdog, doesn’t it? Paul Parsons is the Senior Associate Pastor at First Pres.
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A Success Story By Martha Callbeck
e moved to Colorado Springs near the end of 1998 and joined the First Presbyterian Church family. Not long after, we began hearing about Hope & Home. We soon learned that this unique ministry had been created to fill the huge gap between the needs of children who were entering the foster care system and the resources available to meet these needs. As someone who had worked with special needs children in California, I was particularly interested in Hope & Home. I had often bumped up against the difficulties of working within the foster care system there, so I was impressed with Hope & Home’s entirely new approach to foster care. Still, they seemed like ambitious goals for kids facing family crises: provide a “stable and nurturing foster family to live with until it’s safe to go home again or...when that safety isn’t possible...to provide a “forever family” through adoption. I couldn’t see these goals succeeding within the bureaucracy of foster care, but I was wrong! Today Hope & Home is “the largest provider of foster care and foster/adoptive services in the county.” From the beginning, members of the First Pres community have actively supported this special organization with time, abilities, and even finances! Some of our church families have been called to become foster families, or, in some cases, “forever families” for Hope & Home children. After almost 12 years, Hope & Home is still recruiting, training and supporting families who will provide a safe, loving and nurturing 6 | www.first-pres.org | 1/11
environment for the special kids who have often been to the brink of disaster. At Hope & Home it’s all about the kids and making the world a safe place for them. Martha Callbeck is a writer and member of First Pres.
Want to get involved? ♥ Every fall there is a dinner and fashion show fundraiser. There are opportunities to attend and to donate to this fun event. ♥ You can volunteer to help at the picnics, holiday parties, and other special events which occur throughout the year. ♥ Purchase items to keep the Woodsum Daniel Store supplied with comfort items for the children to pick out during their first days of care. ♥ Contribute toys and other prizes to the “Zoondoogle Factory” where children can choose to spend the special tokens they have earned by good behavior. ♥ Help build deluxe swing sets for the foster families during the annual “Great Swing Set Build-Away.” ♥ Visit Hope & Home. Call 719.575.9887 to schedule a tour. ♥ Pray for the ministry of Hope and Home, the staff, the children and the families.
We are most alive when we pursue God’s heart together
Ephesians: Alive to God’s Desire Beginning the week of
January 9, 2011 (8 weeks)
884.6140 | www.ﬁrst-pres.org/ephesians
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By Hugh Eaton
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aul, a native of Tarsus, in Celicia, was descended from the Jewish tribe of Benjamin. Scholars believe he was born about two years after Jesus. Saul, like his father, was a Pharisee and inherited Roman citizenship. Pharisees were a Jewish sect noted for their strict legal tendency and desire to be separated from the “unclean.” At age thirteen, after learning tent making, Saul began studying the law under Gamaliel, a distinguished Jewish scholar, and became a member of the Sanhedrin, the supreme ruling body of the Jewish nation. After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Christianity began to spread and the Sanhedrin, including Saul, felt Christianity was a threat to the Jewish way of life. They sought to abolish the church. Christians, fearing for their lives, fled Jerusalem. Saul followed them, “ravaging the church” and dragging men and women to prison. He participated in the stoning of Stephen, a leader in the Christian church and perhaps the first Christian martyr. Saul let those who did the stoning lay their cloaks at his feet, which, by custom, meant he was in “hearty agreement” with stoning Stephen to death. Saul got permission from the high priest to pursue the Christians to Damascus. It was on the road to Damascus that Saul’s transformation from a murderer to a devout witness for Jesus Christ took place when Jesus confronted Saul after he was blinded by a flash of light. This is how it is described in Acts 9:3–16 (The Message): “He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?’ “He said, ‘Who are you, Master?’ “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next.
“The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. “In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision. ‘Ananias!’ ‘Yes, Lord’, he answered. “The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.’
Paul suffered many physical and emotional hardships, but never lost his determination to take the news about Jesus being the Son of God to everyone who would listen. “‘Lord,’ Ananias answered. ‘I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.’ “But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’” Ananias did as the Lord had instructed and prayed with Saul who then regained his sight. He was baptized immediately and soon began to preach “Jesus is the Son of God” with such authority, he astonished those who knew his background. A miracle had taken place!
Saul’s transformation was so dramatic and complete, God decided to change his name to Paul. It is interesting to note God had a plan to spread the word that Jesus was his son to both the Jews and the Gentiles. One would think he would send the educated lawyer, Paul, to speak to the Sanhedrin and Peter, an uneducated fisherman, to speak to the less educated Gentiles. But God tells us “My ways are not your ways,” so he did the reverse and sent Peter to speak to the Sanhedrin and Paul primarily to the Gentiles. Paul’s missionary efforts, detailed with much adventurous excitement in the book of Acts, spanned a number of years. He was involved in the founding of many Christian churches in Galatia, Macedonia, Cyprus and Asia Minor. Over the years of his missionary ministry, he suffered many physical and emotional hardships, but never lost his determination to take the news about Jesus being the Son of God to everyone who would listen. His Jewish detractors threatened his life many times and caused him much suffering. Near the end of his ministry he was imprisoned in Rome for about two years. It wasn’t harsh but more like house arrest. During this time his relationship with God grew even deeper. He decided to minister to some of the churches he had founded by writing a letter. That was probably circulated among several churches. When the Bible was assembled this letter was titled The Epistle to the Ephesians. The sermon series on Ephesians from January through Easter is planned to invite us to become “alive to God’s desire for newness of life,” says pastor Jim Singleton. This may be our own personal road to Damascus. Come and hear. Hugh Eaton is a regular contributor on behalf of First Pres North.
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to God’s Desire: Community “You…are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:22. Here are a few opportunities to join with others and become alive to God’s desire together. Extending Ephesians: Sermon-Based Small Communities (8 weeks beginning January 12) 884.6144 Gather around the winter sermon series and build relationships around the Word of God. Groups can meet in homes, at the church on Wednesdays, or anywhere else that works. Please sign up to be placed in a new community or to register your existing group and receive materials. Extending Ephesians at First Pres North (8 weeks beginning January 12) 884.6144 Gather with others in Northern El Paso County at the Community Bible Study building on Stout Road. Build relationships around the Word of God. Small Groups for Young Families (8 weeks beginning January 12) firstname.lastname@example.org Connect with other parents of young children on Wednesday nights for life-giving conversation. Groups are encouraged to participate in the “Extending Ephesians” material. Renovation Workshop (January 12-March 16, not meeting March 9) 884.6144 Are you tired of ‘religion as usual?’ Join with others who want to take a step forward in their apprenticeship with Jesus and his tools of heart restoration. $30 fee includes day-long retreat on Saturday, January 15. Doorways New Member Class (5 weeks beginning January 12) 884.6144 Join your story to the larger community of God’s story at First Pres. Gather and grow with others who are making the commitment of becoming members of our congregation.
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E-News Every corner of First Pres is alive with opportunities to discover God’s desire. The magazine only scratches the surface of all the places we can build relationships, serve, grow, and worship. Dig deeper with our many specific e-newsletters. Find them all at www.first-pres.org/enews. Children’s Missions MOPS Women’s Ministry Community Life If you don’t have access to a computer, call Congregational Care at 884.6144 for further details about these ministries.
Join us in Worship on Sundays Downtown – 219 East Bijou Worship with Choir – Sanctuary, 8:20 a.m. & 9:45 a.m. Band-led Worship – Fellowship Hall, 9:45 a.m. & Sanctuary, 11:10 a.m. Contemplative Worship – Sanctuary, 5:00 p.m. First Pres North – daVinci Academy, 1335 Bridle Oaks Lane Contemporary Worship – 11:00 a.m. First Pres Online – first-pres.org Live streaming broadcast of Sanctuary services Beginning at 8:20 a.m. For church information: 719.884.6144 or email@example.com
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Published on Dec 22, 2010