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FEBRUARY 2010 First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs
Dear Friends, It happens every February—Valentine’s Day. It is a day devoted to the romantic and even sentimental side of love. There is hardly a marriage relationship around that couldn’t use more attention to this aspect of their relationship. It is so common to grow to a point where those in love take each other for granted. Hence, it is a worthy reminder that comes to us from the culture to remember to cherish our primary relationships. Yet, beyond the very ingredient of romantic love, most relationships need a heavy infusion of the kind of love that is described in scripture. The new Christian movement borrowed a less common word in the Greek language for love—Agape—and they invested it with a new meaning. They saw “agape” as a selfless love that mirrored the kind of love God has for us. It was a love that sought the very best for the other, a love that sacrificed, a love that believed in the other and hoped for the other. It was a love that did not demand its own way. The chapter commonly heard at weddings— 1 Corinthians 13—is really about the love intended inside of all Christian relationship—and inside of the people who gather in a church. My hope is that this month we will re-focus on expressing the love that God has poured into our hearts. We have so much to give and so many ways to love. A box of chocolates and some roses on the 14th is a great idea, but let’s remember how deeply our Savior loved us and how we might love. Do remember that February is the month during which the season of Lent begins. It launches with a mid-week evening service of worship called “Ash Wednesday” (February 17). Just before the service we will have our usual Wednesday night dinner which is a wonderful place to experience the fellowship of believers. We’ll have something special that night. Then during the Sundays of Lent we will skip forward in John’s gospel to all of the “I am” statements. That will help us see both who Jesus is and why we need Jesus so much. Yours in Christ,
Jim Singleton, Senior Pastor First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs
FEBRUARY 2010 contents A Safe Place for Hurting People . . . . . . 4 Nicole Lowell Transforming No to Yes . . . . . . . . . 5 Katie Dayton Labor of Love . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Nicole Lowell Help on the Home Front . . . . . . . . 10 Christina Harrell
in every issue
First Pres Spotlight: Stephen Ministry . . . . . . . College/Young Adult Ministries . Student Ministries . . . . . . . Children’s Ministries . . . . . . Events Calendar . . . . . . . .
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Contributing Writers: Wendy Buckler, Katie Dayton, Christina Harrell, Adam Holz, Nicole Lowell Contributing Editors: Stacey Smith-Bradfield, Nancy Maffett, Paul Parsons, Pam Pryce, Nicole Lowell, Alyce Fertig, Joe Farrell Photographer: Alison Smith 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, February 2010, Volume Two, © 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 809031392 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Printed in the U.S.A.
�afe Places �or �urting � eople By Nicole Lowell
stories mirrored her own. Christa found this hope and life in a support group at First Presbyterian Church. For every Christa whose story we know, there are countless others in our church and town who are suffering life’s tragedies alone. The pain takes many forms. The spouse of an Alzheimer’s patient feels exhausted and frustrated. A wife loses hope that she’ll ever have a baby. The dad of a gay daughter wonders if he failed. Week after week, people wrestle with questions and fears like these. There is no need to suffer alone. In a world where hurt abounds, First Pres offers a wide range of groups designed to come alongside hurting men and women. People who are experiencing life’s challenges first hand are walking the toughest roads of life, and they are walking them together. Whether it is substance abuse or Lou Gehrig’s disease, cancer or sexual addiction, there is a group for almost every circumstance. All too often, life hurts. But God never meant for us to face our pain alone. As Christa, and so many others have discovered, there is a safe place where we can “bear one another’s burdens in love” (Galatians 6:2). *Not her real name.
Looking for a safe place? Call 884-6145 for details about these support groups. hrista* was tempted to never come in to a church again. For years she had battled feelings of worthlessness and suicide. She’d tried to overcome them with ministry work all over the world. Surely, serving God should heal her from the relentless but ambiguous pain in her heart. Then one day, in the middle of a mission project, reality broke through; Christa finally faced the emotional, sexual, and physical abuses she had suffered in her teens. And once that pain opened up, so did her fear that a church in a new town was the last place that would embrace her. Christa was wrong. She found love and healing in the company of other women whose 4 | www.first-pres.org | 2/10
Addictions Women Face Al Anon ALS Alzheimer’s Cancer Care Families of Gays & Lesbians Infertility Parkinson’s Silent No More: Men seeking sexual integrity Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse Wives of men with sexual addiction
Transforming No to Yes
y doting mom and dad have captured countless Kodak moments from my childhood. In many of these photos you see one word rebelliously forming on my lips. “NOOO.” No. It’s a powerful word. Ed and Sally Ward’s involvement with Mongolia began with a “no.” Being involved in missions was not on their radar. They weren’t interested. So when asked if they wanted to go on a mission trip to Mongolia, “No” seemed like the appropriate response. Then something funny happened. The Wards heard Floyd Sebald, national director of Mongolia Campus Crusade, speak to their Sunday school class. After the class, Ed made polite conversation with Floyd about his work in Mongolia. Through this simple exchange, Ed knew that he and Sally needed to rethink their position. After many conversations, much thought, and prayerfully seeking the Lord, the Wards said yes. Yes. Yes, to the Lord’s prompting. Yes, to going to Mongolia. Yes, to building relationships with people halfway around the world. Yes, to being used by God in ways they never imagined. Yes. The Ward’s are quick to recognize that this marvelous work being done in Mongolia isn’t about them. It certainly is the Lord’s doing, but
as Sally says, “At some point you have to say Yes.” Yes, to stepping outside of your comfort zone. Yes, to letting go of your preconceived notions and plans. Yes is a powerful word. It’s the kind of word that changes you. Just ask Sally and Ed. They have been to Mongolia twice now and are planning another trip next year. They have made countless friends, taught at various venues, and seen lives transformed. In the midst of all that, their hearts have become overwhelmed with a deep and passionate love for the people of Mongolia. As God moves and invites, what would it look like to be open? To be available? To let the posture of our lives, our very wills, be YES. Yes, Lord, to where you are going. Yes, Lord, to how you are calling. Wherever. However. To whomever. Yes. Ed and Sally’s story about Mongolia begins with a No, but it doesn’t end there. As Sally says, “Always be open to where God might lead you. Don’t say no. You just don’t know what God has in mind.” Sugi is one of the many people the Wards have shared their lives with in Mongolia. She once described her outlook on life saying, “Well, Lord it’s my life. You can have it.” In other words, YES. Stevens Fellow Katie Dayton traveled to Mongolia in August 2009.
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FIRST PRES SPOTLIGHT
Equipped to Care
By Wendy Buckler
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isinformation can do serious damage. For years, tuberculosis patients were encouraged to smoke. Cigarettes, it was thought, “warmed the lungs.” Last year’s economic crisis was fueled by the flawed idea that easy credit was better than basic savings. Myths can really set us back. As we face the challenges of 2010, it is worth asking if we have incorrect assumptions about what it means to follow Jesus. Here are three myths that might have crept into our thinking: Myth #1: Growing deeper in my relationship with Christ will take a huge effort. Myth #2: I need a very deep walk with Jesus before I can really love people in the world. Myth #3: I don’t have time right now to either grow deeper or reach out to others. 8 | www.first-pres.org | 2/10
What we believe affects how we feel, and believing these myths might make us feel tired or exhausted when we think of praying for others. We might try to ignore the hard questions that arise when we look at the world. Or we may get a sense of unease at telling unchurched neighbors why we attend a Bible study. If we recognize any of these symptoms, we may have bought into a myth. There is one sure antidote for these falsehoods. Ephesians 4:15 tells us that truth wrapped in love grows us more deeply into Christ. Something of the loving truth we need is in a story about a 19th century orphan who was sent to live in a home at the edge of the city. Leaving the squalid workhouse had been a relief. But reality returned when she saw her foster father’s property was barely more livable than where she’d been. “I’m fixing it up,” he told her with a hopeful smile. “You’ll be a big help to me.” She nodded in response and resigned herself to her old life of heavy work. It started immediately. The man piled rubbish into the back of his cart. The child reached for a mangled iron wheel and dragged it to where he stood. The moment he saw her, he said, “Dear girl,” and lifted the load out of her arms. “I’ll do the heavy work myself.” She stared at him a moment, unsure. Hadn’t he brought her to help? “Keep me company,” he said. “Let me show you what I’m doing. Let
me tell you how beautiful I’m making this place.” So she sat near the cart the rest of that day, and the next and the day after that. He lifted and moved and washed and built. While he worked, he told her about trees he would plant and rooms he would restore until her heart was brimming with his vision of that ugly place transformed. She did not remember when or how it happened, but one day she stood up and started working at his side. By then, of course, it wasn’t work anymore. By then it had become a labor of love. God is moving and leading and fixing in our world. But so often we assume the heavy lifting is up to us. The transformation of hearts, the deepening of lives, the salvation of the world is the work our Father has taken on. Jesus made it clear these big changes are beyond our ability and control. But like the father in the story, God loves to have us along for the ride! He wants our company and our attention as he works on the restoration project he started at Jesus’ resurrection. In fact, this is exactly how he intended to love us into his image—sitting beside him and watching closely while he fills our hearts with his vision for our world. Then there will be nothing we want more than to join him. Nicole Lowell works with Renovation Workshop and looks for ways to love God better in the ordinary moments.
One of the best ways to defeat a myth is to test its opposing truth. So would you be willing to take a missional challenge in the name of love this month? Next time you’re standing in line at the store or stuck at a red light, try to notice the people nearby. Take a moment and remember that they are uniquely loved by God. Pray to see them the way Christ sees them. Then listen for his beautiful vision. This small attempt, this simple shift can change everything, debunking all three myths at once. You will move closer to Jesus by looking for him right where you are. You will be out in the world as a witness of his truth. Without adding one more task to your day, you will begin a labor of love. 2/10 | www.first-pres.org | 9
By Christina Harrell
f you ask Stan and Doris Mincks about love, they might tell you how they moved in the same military circles for years. It wasn’t until Doris’s son married Stan’s daughter that they became better acquainted. Now three years into their own marriage, the love between them extends beyond their romance to bless countless others. With over 40 years combined military experience, the Mincks know about combat-related stress disorders (PTSD). They know that America has been involved in Iraq and Afghanistan longer than we were in World War II. It would be easy to look the other way, but instead, this active First Pres couple greets new days praying for insight in their calling. Then they reach out to young military families dealing with frequent separations and all of the trauma war brings. Having experienced the ravages of the Vietnam War, Doris can identify with the problems facing our military families today. With her Master’s degree in counseling, she can be seen having tea with the wife of a soldier who recently returned from Iraq. She coaches military wives on how to listen to their husbands and to better understand the traumas of war. She encourages women to be patient with the adjustments their husbands face as they return home and try to relate to his family. Stan, a retired Coast Guard Captain, might be found talking with other military men about the spiritual wounds left by their time in the war zone. For all that is known about the emotional and physical consequences of war, for all the statistics in the media, those who talk to military families know that actually living with these consequences feels like groping in the dark for answers. 10 | www.first-pres.org | 2/10
The Colorado Springs community has seen the repercussions of war sometimes play out in particularly extreme ways. This is where Stan and Doris have found their heart’s cry. The Message paraphrases Matthew 5:14 this way: “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.” The Mincks are bringing out these God-colors in a war-torn home front like ours, working on behalf of hurting military families and equipping churches to help. Through their love for each other, their country, and those who suffer the effects of armed conflict, the Mincks echo the heart of the Father in uncertain times. First Pres member Christina Harrell serves on the Editorial Board for First Pres Magazine.
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COLLEGE/YOUNG ADULT MINISTRIES
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t’s February. And while this might seem the natural time to write about the messy intersection of romance and faith, well, I’m actually going to go in a different direction. Last month Joe Farrell wrote about exchanging the idea of a New Year’s resolution for a New Year’s discipline. He pointed out that sometimes as we add something new, we need to get rid of something old. This month, I’d like to build on some of the things Joe said. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I commit to making significant spiritual changes in my life, I still fall short of my great expectations. Good intentions don’t always translate into deepened discipline. Usually somewhere about January 8th or 10th, it’s tempting just to slip back into the old ways of doing things. For me, at least, I reason, “Well, that didn’t work,” whether that was a renewed desire to get into the Word, to pray more, to surf the Internet less—fill in the blank. If I can’t have total, instant success in some new spiritual venture, I think, it’s easy for me to punt on the whole thing—a kind of all-or-nothing thinking that accomplishes very little. What does it take to keep moving forward spiritually in new ways, especially in moments when we’re more aware of our failures than successes? If January is a month of renewed commitment, I wonder if February might be an ideal time to reflect on the reality of grace. Grace not only brings us into relationship with God. It’s what allows us to get up even when we’ve blown it spiritually. All-or-nothing thinking rejects grace in its focus on our selfeffort. But when I listen to Jesus’ voice, I remember that I can keep trying every day. And even those efforts are not ultimately about my own willpower, but a response to Jesus’ work in my life as he invites me to keep following Him. Eugene Peterson puts it this way in his paraphrase of Matt. 11:28-30 in The Message: “Walk with me and work with me— watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” What an invitation! That’s a picture of the life I want. I still struggle at times to accept that invitation. It’s easy to let my shortcomings have the last word, especially when genuine transformation at times seems a long ways off. But as I grow older, I realize just how much I need a reminder that it’s not about my good intentions. It’s about God’s intentions—His determined plan, in fact—to make me into a person who reflects His Son’s life-changing presence in my life. Adam R. Holz is Senior Associate Editor at Focus on the Family’s Plugged In Online.
By Nate Stratman
here is something really interesting about walking around our city instead of driving. When you walk you notice the details of buildings and sidewalks, and most importantly you have the opportunity to notice people. If you walk up and down Tejon Street, you will see fancy-dressed business people, baristas at Starbucks, college students riding their bikes, teenagers who don’t have a home, and folks who haven’t eaten all day. As Christians we believe God cares deeply about each of these people, but there is one group that is easier to ignore if we are honest with ourselves. Why do we often turn our heads to homelessness and poverty? Many of us feel like we can’t help or we are scared that we might be asked for money or assistance. One of the main reasons we ignore any group is because we don’t know them or their situation. We haven’t taken the time to learn. Urban Immersion is an experience during spring break where students can observe the precious details of our city. We will ask questions, serve, worship, listen and explore Jesus Christ’s specific call to love the poor. Nate Stratman is Director of Student Ministries.
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Preschoolers in Creation Station are now at the half-way point in our Sund ay school year. In the fall we were able to learn mor e about God’s great love for us through the lives of Moses, Samuel and David. During the season of Advent, the children anticipa ted the arrival of God’s promise sent to us in the gift of His son, Jesus. Last month, we disco vered some of Jesus’ miracles and how His sam e protection and love is present in our own lives. FEBRUARY MEMORY VERSE: Be kind to everyone . 2 Timothy 2:24
Throughout the coming months, we will come alongside our preschoolers as they come to know Jesus in ways that are meaningful to them. The month of Febr uary will bring us closer to Him as we expl ore his teachings through some parables: The Forgiving King, The Good Samaritan, The Good Shepherd/Lost Shee p, and The Loving Father/Prodigal Son. Please make sure to pick up a “Par ent Page” each month. These are available as a means of reinforcing your child’s learning at home. They include info rmation about our lesson, bible verse, as well as discussion questions for your family.
In February, The Connection will focus on Young David: Chosen by God. Last month, children heard about Samuel being called by God as a child. This month, the adult Samuel anoints David, the boy shepherd, to be the future King of Israel. We will continue to explore what it means for each of us to be called by God in today’s world. FEBRUARY MEMORY VERSE: The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV)
e is a blessing to our children, as Parents are always invited and welcome to help in the classroom. Your presenc journey! well as our teachers. Thank you for the opportunity to partner with you on this
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Events Calendar FEBRUARY week of 1–7
Thursday, Feb. 4 Prime Time, Weber Street Center 9:30 to 11:00
Saturday, Feb. 6-7 Marriage Retreat
week of 8–14
Monday, Feb. 8 Annual Meeting 7 p.m. Fellowship Hall
Tuesday, Feb. 9 Engine Room Prayer Service 5:30 p.m. Sanctuary
Monday, Feb. 15 Presidents Day – Church Offices Closed Wednesday, Feb. 17 Ash Wednesday Service 6:30 p.m. Sanctuary
Thursday, Feb. 18 Prime Time, Weber Street Center 9:30 to 11 a.m.
week of 15–21
week of 22–28
Sunday, Feb. 7 Doorways Class Begins 11 a.m. Sheldon Jackson Room
Saturday, Feb. 20 Confirmation Overnight 2 p.m. Weber Street Center
Sunday, Feb. 28 First Pres North welcomes First Pres attenders from northern El Paso County.
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