ISSUE 06 | APRIL- AUGUST 2013
MEET THE MESSED UP STAFF P. 04 FILTHY P. 13 WHAT KIND OF SINNER ARE YOU? P. 14 TRUSTING YOU WITH THE REAL ME P. 06 SLIDING SCALE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS P. 24
ABOUT THE COMPASS EXECUTIVE EDITOR Mark Shetler EDITOR Jennifer Raynes EXECUTIVE DESIGN Jessica Ripley CONTRIBUTORS Amy Byrne, Rolando Cordova, Jane Daly, Dan DeMuri, Dave Enns, Heidi, Jennie Nagy, Jennifer Raynes, Jessica Ripley, Ray Rueck, Darin Schoch, Mark Shetler, Ana Smith, Benjamin Smith, Matt Tory, PC Walker PHOTOGRAPHY Sandy Runner
THE COMPASS IS A PUBLICATION OF First Covenant Church of Sacramento 10933 Progress Court Rancho Cordova, CA 95670 916.861.2240 • www.firstcov.org
FEATuREd 03 • Sugar Coating? I'll Pass... 04 • Meet the Messed Up Staff 06 • Trusting You With the Real Me 12 • Excuse Me While I Hide 13 • Filthy 14 • What Kind of Sinner are You? 16 • Never Satisfied 20 • Homemade Discipleship 22 • The Victory (I Can't Gain Myself) 24 • Sliding Scale of Righteousness 26 • Don't Make Me Angry, You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry 27 • The Not Forgotten 30 • Reel Advice INFORMATION 08 • Equipping Classes 10 • Upcoming Events COLuMNS 17 • MTS: Dawn Jeske 17 • My Story: Ray Rueck 24 • Faith Cubed 25 • MTS: Dustin Larsen 28 • MAV: Jubilee Ward 29 • Lost in Translation 32 • MAE: Rob Hargraves 33 • Beyond the Guitar
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.
FROM PASTOR JESSE The COMPASS is a quarterly publication of First Cov that allows people in our church to share bits and pieces of their stories with a wide audience. The theme for this issue is “The dirty Truth” and certainly isn’t the most comfortable one we’ve tackled to date. Please understand that we’re not trying to make you feel uncomfortable and it certainly is not for shock value. The reality is that we all have our dirty laundry and we all have things that we are ashamed of, but by the grace of Jesus Christ, we are being made new. The intention of this issue is to give you hope for the difficulties you face in your life and the motivation to move towards holiness with the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Whether you have been JESSE SMITH a Christian all your life, or if you are brand new to the SENIOR PASTOR church and aren’t sure yet what you believe, it can be helpful to know that there are people around us who struggle, too.
WORSHIP WITH US
SuNdAYS • 8:30 a.m. The familiar sounds of First Cov, from the best of the cherished hymns of our faith to the most loved worship songs of today.
SuNdAYS • 10 and 11:30 a.m. An intentional approach to inspire honoring and engaging worship that is fresh and relevant in our culture today.
As the lead pastor here, I hope you find First Cov to be a place where you can be honest without being judged. At the same time, I want you to find the help you need to pursue the kind of life God wants you to live. We often summarize these ideas by saying that we want to be a church that has a “high standard of holiness with a huge hand of grace.” Again, we hope your experience here matches that ideal. Besides the meaningful stories, the COMPASS also has lots of information about how to get better connected to the First Cov family. Within these pages, you can find out more about worship, Growth Groups and Equipping Classes, as well as special events and various life-stage ministries. I hope that you’ll take time to read through this issue and consider ways that you might get plugged in. If you have questions about any of the information presented here, please feel free to contact us in the church office. If you’re new to our church, I want to say, “Welcome!” I hope you stick around to explore all the different ways that First Cov can help you grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ.
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973, 1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, Today's New International® Version TNIV®. Copyright 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society®. Used by permission of International Bible Society®. All rights reserved worldwide.
We love kids and teenagers! We have a full schedule of classes on Sunday mornings, from nursery to high school.
S! S A P M O C E TO THE
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Has anyone read the Bible lately? The people written about in Scripture from Jesus’ disciples, to the great “heroes of the faith” in the Old Testament were messed up! That’s not disrespectful—that’s the truth! Many of the men and women God worked through were real pieces of work—prostitutes, drunks, adulterers, cheats, liars—as sinful as they come. And we know this because God allowed it to be written in the Bible—His Holy Bible!
I’ll Pass… A Letter from the Editor
sn’t it so refreshing to meet people who are just real? Honest about their struggles. Not trying to impress anyone. Not trying to sugarcoat their issues to justify their stuff to look more “holy.” Well, allow me to introduce you to such people… When the COMPASS staff were brainstorming possible themes for this issue, we had to admit we were all a little bored of hearing the typical Christian messages, overly happy and sappy. Controversial as it might seem, we wanted something more intense, dramatic…REAL!
Why did God allow such “dirty little details” into His Word? Wouldn’t it be better to just gloss over all the failures and darkness in favor of something a little more happy? Apparently God doesn’t do sugarcoating… This past winter session of Equipping Classes here at First Cov, I shared with the people in my “Scripture vs. Society” class that a Christian worldview doesn’t make heroes out of humans. God is the ultimate hero—we don’t even come close. In fact, no matter how heroic someone may seem, each one is in need of rescue. A “good person” doesn’t exist. We’re all dirty. Desperate for help. It’s comforting to me that Paul (talk about your big name people in the Bible) calls himself the “chief” of sinners or “the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15). Paul is someone who was striving after Christ— witnessing to the world and suffering for the sake of the Gospel. He’s the guy you look up to as “the model Christian.” Yet, Paul was real enough to admit that he was still just a man. A sinner in need of grace… So, while we affectionately dub this quarter’s COMPASS “The Confession Issue,” we’re not out to air our dirty laundry for its own sake. In
challenging our writers to be “uncomfortably honest” about their stuff, we wanted to show YOU, our readers, that your fellow believers— your church staff even—have had difficulties in following the Lord and have been broken. We need strength. We need to be rescued. We are utterly dependent on God to come through for us. Because that’s the big message of the Bible: Our absolute need for Jesus. Be encouraged that you are not the only one who struggles. We all do. But let this issue also encourage you to be more real with others. To be more real with God. He hates the syrupy coating just as much we do.
Here’s to a spoonful of truth— sugar-free.
This girl really loves her church—just a quick peak at her day planner reveals that she may as well keep a sleeping bag here (it could save on gas money). She’s a graduate assistant with the Global Pipeline internship, a frequent Equipping Class teacher, and organizer of silly and spectacular events for our Single Professional Women’s group. Oh yeah—that’s all in her free time. Jen actually works here full-time too, doing everything from coordinating baptisms, global outreach trips and worship, to bringing the COMPASS (her “baby”) to life every season. At present, she’s totally digging the vintage Wonder Woman lunchbox nestled in the corner of her cubicle—a humble reminder of 2 Corinthians 12:9.
"One of my best friends is a nonChristian. I’ve known her for over a decade but I don’t invite her to church as often as I know I should." "Sometimes I am too scared to enlarge my boundaries. I have a hard time trusting God to give me the strength to do the things He's called me to do. Yet He always gets them done!"
"I sometimes fall asleep or go off on a tangent in a world of unrelated thoughts during prayer."
"I overeat when I feel anxious."
"If I’m not careful, people can really get on my nerves. I know I'm supposed to love them, and I do most of the time, but how do I love them when it's hard to even like them? The human race does so many annoying things–at times people are demanding, presumptuous, rude, self-centered, inconsiderate, and filled with entitlement issues. Too often, I'd rather avoid them than serve them."
"I have a cynical tongue. I can be too critical with my words and speak too harshly to those who are closest to me. Who am I to judge others? "
messeD up stAFF Focusing on this issue’s theme of “The Dirty Truth,” we asked the church staff to confess some of their less than perfect behavior and thoughts. can you identify with us? 4
"There are times I feel Godâ€™s leading me to speak something to someone (to pray or minister to them) but I ignore it if it makes me uncomfortable or is inconvenient for me to take the time out of my schedule to do it."
"Some days I wake up feeling depressed. I want to hope in God, but I struggle, sometimes feeling like nothing ever changes." "I know one of my best defenses against the enemy is knowing scripture, but I struggle with the motivation and discipline to commit verses to memory."
"I struggle with patience with my kids. I am working on not over-reacting and overwhelming them, and instead responding appropriately."
"My dirty laundry is pride. I worry way too much about what people think of me. I work too hard at making sure people like me instead of finding my identity in Christ."
"I sometimes pawn off my responsibilities on others. My sin is avoiding the things I need to do, which ends up putting unnecessary pressure on others. I want to be more loving to others by not making others pick up my slack."
Trusting You with the
Real By Heidi
I lay in bed and the waves of fear rolled over me. It was the night before I was to get on a plane and do the second of two things that would rock my faith and take me to a new level with God. Something I had been longing for, ushering me to a level I dreamed existed, but never experienced personally. Step #1 was going to a counselor. Let me tell you, it took years to let go of my pride and realize I need help. But I realized that until I accept help from people more wise and experienced than me, I was going to continue to allow pain and sin to wreak havoc on my life. Living in the dark was not the answer. When I went to the counselor, he suggested scary step #2. Step #2 was going to Georgia to participate in a week-long counseling immersion with 15 people I had never met before in my life. I knew this experience would break me beyond what I had ever been in my life—and that terrified me, especially since I didn’t even know the people who I was going to be broken in front of. But God threw open all doors and showed me clearly that this week was something He wanted me to do.
Each wave of fear got bigger. What if I don’t click with anyone? What if I am stuck with weird people for a week with no one to talk to? It got more irrational. What if some weirdo abducts me in those woods? What if something happens to the baby in my womb? I eventually was so overwhelmed I started crying while lying next to Josiah. My sobs woke him. After sheepishly telling him what was weighing on me, he was silent. I knew
he was praying fervently that God would speak through him. Josiah doesn’t take these situations lightly by just giving me all his best opinions and perspectives. For that I respect him, trust him. Finally he spoke. “Do you know what Satan’s first deception was?” No. “He convinced Eve that God could not be trusted.” He let the weight of that sink in. “And ever since then he has been doing the same thing to us all. Lying to us, telling us that God is not who He says He is, that we are not who He says we are, that He cannot be trusted.” In the end, I did go to the counseling—and it was one of the most amazing weeks of my life. It was clear that this night was Satan’s last ditch effort to prevent it. One major awareness I gained in Georgia was that when I have an experience in which I can attach a concept to my identity, I start to own it. Eventually, I truly believe things like: “I am not worthy,” or “My value is tied solely to my physical beauty” or “God gives me hard things in life because he doesn’t love me as much,” or the worst, “I am unlovable.” The
list goes on. I exchange the truth for lies. I don’t REALLY trust God and what he says about me, to me. Through all these deeply embedded lies spring pain, insecurities and fear. That was almost four years ago. I still struggle to trust God. My sin comes in many forms, but they all have their roots in my lack of trust in God. At home, I live, as Ann Voskamp so vulnerably admits, “Raging at the children for minor wrongdoings while I’m the
one defiling the moment with sinful anger.” I don’t trust God with
my pain. Instead, I yell at my children, unleashing anger that is hurtful. I have to ask them for forgiveness almost daily. They will tell you it's true.
to share them with everyone, not only to get them to think the way I do (wouldn’t that make for boring relationships!) but to think highly of me for having it all together. My pride is failing to trust God's work in others lives just as much. He doesn’t need me to do it, yet He chooses to use me to speak those truths at times even though I may not deserve to be the one who delivers the message. These are just some of the things I struggle with. Even writing this article, I had to come to a point where I surrendered what I would share. It’s hard to trust you with my struggles, not knowing if you will judge or look down on me. Ultimately, I struggle with trusting God to be able to use this somehow, yet at the same time, letting him be my confidence and the glory of my reputation. I long for transformation. Do you? I’m only changed when I first humble myself before God and ask Him to point out the ways in which I offend Him. To do that I’ve got to trust Him—believe that He really loves me, no matter what. Trust that He will gently handle me, that He will ask things of me that are for my good. Trust Him enough to obey.
When I am not feeling emotionally connected with my husband, I look to affirmation from other men. I am not trusting God for my value, but instead, looking to people to validate me. Defiling and sinful. Not practicing self-control, I “vent” or “process” or “share prayer requests” about my frustrations with people. Letting
gossip continually invade my interactions and not trusting God as
my only confidant, I sin against others.
When I am given an opportunity for compassion and grace, instead, I judge. Seeing other’s sin, pain or choices, I think of how I would do it differently. Better. Not trusting God to be the Judge and Restorer of all things.
Connected to this judementalness, there’s my pride; probably the most obvious of my list to everyone else. I have opinions that I know are right and I feel compelled
Today was a victory in the battle to trust Him. Yesterday wasn’t. Tomorrow, who knows? This is a current battle. I’d be wearing a “have it all together” mask if I told you that I’ve arrived. I’d also be lying. But I know being honest is the first step in transformation. So, this is me taking down a mask. Heidi is a stay at home mom in India who orders her groceries in another language, washes her fruits and vegetables for an hour before eating them, and relies on chocolate from the U.S. to make it through a day. She is passionate about healthy marriages and families, and seeing women grow into the full knowledge of God's extravagant love for them. She is currently on that journey herself.
PASSING THE TESTS OF LIFE
SPRING EQUIPPING CLASSES
Getting Unstuck and Moving Forward
SPECIAL 4-WEEK SESSION
Equipping Classes are short term classes which provide
of Jesus. We encourage you to read through the class
you with tools to develop a significant skill set and help
descriptions, to pray about which one may be right for
you apply what you learn through weekly homework
you, and to make a commitment to fully participate in
assignments and personal challenges. We’re excited
the class. We pray that the Equipping Classes will be a
about this session's topics and the teachers who are
part of significant growth in your life. There is no need
investing so much to help us be better equipped followers
to sign up for an equipping class. Just attend!
SUNDAY MORNING CLASSES April 7, 14, 28 and May 5 (no class on April 21)• 10 a.m.
Foundations of the Christian Faith
room 206 Whether you are a new Christian or a lifelong Christian, there is nothing more important than having a solid foundation in your faith. This discipleship seminar will deepen your walk with the Lord and teach you how to lead another believer into spiritual maturity. Join us as we lay the foundation for a life of meaning, purpose and hope. TEACHERs Dan Palmer is the Associate Pastor of First Cov. He will passionately equip you to live out your faith in a fallen world. John Hunt is the Chairman of the Elder Board and has been married to his wife Augusta for almost 17 years. They have attended First Cov for 13 years.
GETTING CONNECTED IN COMMUNITY
The Beauty of Community
room 205 Growth Groups are one of the main vehicles for discipleship at First Covenant Church. They are an essential element of The Path, allowing us to experience discipleship in community. Growth Groups help us develop as followers of Jesus, grow as a spiritual family, and most importantly, help us live as disciples who make disciples. This class will include stories, testimonies, and interactive experiences to help you better understand community life at First Cov. So, whether you don’t know much at all about Growth Groups or even if you have tried one out, come learn and experience what the intention of Growth Groups is all about! TEACHER Matt Newton is the Growth Groups Pastor here at First Cov. He has been on staff for nine years and is on the journey of learning to live a life centered on the Gospel, in community, and on mission for Jesus.
PRACTICAL AND POWERFUL PRAYING Getting Results in Your Prayer Life
room 200 Prayer is a central discipline for growth in the Christian life, but most of us struggle with the practical working of prayer in our daily living. Prayer is the vehicle God has given us to change things around us, move His heart and facilitate change in ourselves. When we are not effective in our prayer lives, we don’t grow at the rate we are capable of, nor are we as effective in impacting the world around us. In this class we are going to learn how to structure a regular time with the Lord to pray. We will learn how to approach God in worship, pray different kinds of prayers, pray and memorize scripture as well as how to remain “free” in our praying. We will learn how to pray with power in a way that changes the world and changes us. TEACHER This class will be taught by Bryan Krenzin, an Elder at First Covenant Church, whose passion is getting the church to pray! Bryan is a graduate from Bethany University with a degree in Church Leadership and has served as an associate pastor in previous ministries. Bryan has been attending First Cov for five years, along with his wife Tami and his daughter Kate.
Your Life May Be the Only Bible Some People Read
room 202 We have all witnessed the decline of morality and ethics in our society in the last few years. Ethics and integrity have become hot topics in the business world. Even universities offer classes about this subject. Just search online and you’ll find hundreds of books and quotes that address the subject of integrity. What does God’s Word say about integrity and how do we as Christians develop this trait in our lives? Join us as we learn to let our lives reveal the character of God. TEACHER Dorothy Compton is a small business owner with a master’s degree in Management. She has taught Christian education classes for adults for over 20 years and is passionate about learning.
room 204 We’ve all experienced trials, been overwhelmed, felt out of balance, and adopted the wrong priorities. Let’s discover together the keys to passing these tests and moving on to the next level of spiritual growth, opportunity and blessing in our lives and in our faith. TEACHER Jeff Koons is Pastor of Family and Men’s Ministries here at First Covenant Church, and has over 25 years of teaching and ministry experience. Jeff is married to Betty and they have an adult daughter and two teenage sons.
“OTHER PLACES” EVANGELISM On Mission to My “Other Place”
Room 203 Do you realize that you have been given a small portion of God’s broken world, and you have been appointed, called, designed, and wired for that specific place? You are already in that place—it is that place where you naturally exist among non-believers. At First Cov, we call this your “other place.” This class will equip you to reach out in your other place. TEACHER PC Walker is the Young Adult Pastor here at First Cov and enjoys engaging people of all walks of life in spiritual conversation.
THINGS I WISH JESUS HADN’T SAID
Reacting to Tough Statements of Jesus
CHAPEL Many of Jesus’ words are easy to quote: “Love one another.” “Come to me, all who are weary… and I will give you rest.” “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” But an honest reading of the Gospels confronts us with some unpleasant thoughts. Sometimes the Savior of the world seemed angry, ungracious, harsh, and politically incorrect. But if we believe the Bible is the Word of God, then we must study these difficult passages just like we study the ones we like. In this class, we will explore the context, meaning, and appropriate applications of some of the words of Jesus that we would often rather ignore. TEACHER Mark Shetler is our Executive Pastor and Director of Worship and has been on staff at First Cov for nine years. He enjoys helping people go beyond a casual reading of scripture to more fully engage the God who is speaking through it. He and his wife Melissa facilitate the Global Pipeline internship, reaching out to the unreached of our community.
Women’s wednesday nights
April 10-May 8 • 6:30-8:15 p.m. THE LAW OF LOVE
Lessons from the Pages of Deuteronomy
cHAPEL “The Law of Love” is a new video-driven study by Beth Moore. Are you stuck? Wandering? Looking for your promised land? Asking, "What's the point?" He brought us out that He might bring us in (Deuteronomy 6:23). Discover and savor all the valuable “a-ha” moments of this study with us as we mine this significant book of the Bible, referred to as "the heartbeat of the Old Testament.” TEACHER Glenda Harr is First Cov’s Director of Women’s and Counseling Ministries and has been on our staff for nine years. Cost $12 for participant’s guide
WOMEN’S THuRSdAY MORNINGS
April 11-May 9 • 10-11:30 a.m. THE LAW OF LOvE
LESSONS FROM THE PAGES OF dEuTERONOMY
CHAPEL “The Law of Love” is a new video-driven study by Beth Moore. Are you stuck? Wandering? Looking for your promised land? Asking, "What's the point?" He brought us out that He might bring us in (Deuteronomy 6:23). Discover and savor all the valuable “a-ha” moments of this study with us as we mine this significant book of the Bible, referred to as "the heartbeat of the Old Testament.” TEACHER Glenda Harr is First Cov’s Director of Women’s and Counseling Ministries and has been on our staff for nine years. COST $12 for participant’s guide
Ethan who is 10, and Jacob who is 6. Tim’s passion is to see students embrace Jesus and discover that they have been created for so much more than they realize.
AMERICA’S CHRISTIAN HISTORY FOR 3Rd – 5TH GRAdE STudENTS
ROOM 115• 11:30 a.m. What prompted so many people to come to an unknown and dangerous land? What motivated them? We will study the Pilgrims and their story. We will learn some interesting things about the life of George Washington, commander during the War for Independence and the first President. We will also examine the life of Abraham Lincoln. We will explore the Christian faith exhibited by these heroes of our country. TEACHERS: Stephanie and Lisa Holzen have been teaching Sunday School and Kid’s Equipping Classes for approximately four years. The have a passion for learning with the kids and exposing them to interesting knowledge found through the study of God's Word.
MEN’S WEdNESdAY NIGHTS
April 10-May 8 • 6:30-8:15 p.m. THE BATTLES MEN FACE WALKING WITH GOd
ROOM 200/202 Men deal with battles every day that test their core values, integrity, and spiritual manhood. This course, based on the book by Gregory L. Jantz, is designed to help men succeed in life. It’s for men who desire to become all that God intends, not living lives of mediocrity, but maturing and becoming equipped in the areas where men fight and need to win. TEACHER Jeff Koons is Pastor of Family and Men’s Ministries here at First Covenant Church, and has over 25 years of teaching and ministry experience. Jeff is married to Betty and they have an adult daughter and two teenage sons. COST $15 for study guide
SuNdAY MORNINGS FOR STudENTS
April 7-May 5 LESSONS FROM ANIMALS
SPIRITuAL LESSONS FROM THE ANIMAL KINGdOM FOR MIddLE SCHOOL STudENTS
ROOM 213• 10 a.m. In nature we see animals work in unity, with purpose and synergy. We can glean lessons from them and are even asked by God to consider their ways. What ways? Ways of propriety, focus, obedience, trust, and teamwork. We’ll also explore some extra-ordinary encounters that animals and man shared in the Bible and discuss what lessons these stories teach us. TEACHER darin Schoch grew up at First Cov and just recently made a triumphant return as the Middle School Youth Pastor. He is energetic and fun and has a passion for teaching young adults how to live a powerful life of faith.
WEdNESdAY EvENINGS FOR CHILdREN
April 10-May 8 • 6:15-8:15 p.m. KIdS KLuB EQuIPPING CLASSES
dEAL OR NO dEAL/FAMILY MECHANICS
ROOM 110 Session 1: During the first four weeks, students will learn what the Bible says about greed, materialism, tithing and stewardship. God says that we should put His Kingdom first in all things, including our money. Instead of seeking after money and STUFF, we should be seeking after Him. If we do that, He will take care of all the needs in our lives and make sure that His children are blessed. Session 2: Students will learn how to keep their family running smoothly. Children will learn how to handle conflict in the family, how to deal with difficult times and discover how they can help influence their parents’ attitudes by loving, honoring, and obeying them. Discover the amazing truth about how we all have the same loving heavenly Father who will never leave us. TEACHER: Austin Baker is the coordinator, curriculum designer and facilitator for Kids Klub and all childcare needs at First Cov. With over 16 years of teaching experience and extensive background in children’s ministry, Austin presents the Bible in a kid-friendly and exciting format.
JR. KIdS KLuB
RHYME ANd REASON
ROOM 111 In this eight-week session Jr. Kid Klub students will learn how God wants them to live and act as set forth in the Bible. Students will learn that they can share Jesus with others just as characters from Jesus’ time did. TEACHER Carolee Catterall teaches Sunday School and is a regular teacher for the Jr. Kids Klub program.
WHEN PEOPLE MEET JESuS
THE POWERFuL IMPACT OF AN ENCOuNTER WITH JESuS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STudENTS
ROOM 214 • 10 a.m. When we take a look at the people Jesus came into contact with, we cannot deny that he had maximum impact on their lives. There are lessons to be learned and challenges to be accepted. This series takes a look into those encounters and shows us just how powerful it can be when people meet Jesus. 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 is married to Jessica and they have two sons,
club 45 4th-5th Grade Students 6-8:30 p.m.. • Gym Club 45 is our special ministry geared specifically to the 4th and 5th grade students. Each week, we have awesome games and competitions, in addition to a fun and interactive worship and teaching time. Students are encouraged to bring their friends and some extra money for our snack bar. For more information, contact Danny Langan at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Eagles WingS Respite Night Birth through Age 14 6-9 p.m. • Room 101 On Eagles Wings is a program designed to work with special needs children in our community, giving them a safe and nurturing place to play and grow. Our program is equipped with skillsappropriate toys, as well as trained adults who are able to comfort, direct, and love children. Email Gabby today at email@example.com for more information.
grief share Adults 6:30-8:00 p.m. • Off Campus
begins in APRIL
Crossover Basketball League High School Students High school students are invited to participate in this recreational league designed to teach fundamental skills and character development. Games are played in the church gym with professional referees. Participants wear NBA style uniforms, receive an official league T-shirt, and are honored at an awards banquet at the end of the season. Registration is $50. Some scholarships are available. Contact kbaker@ firstcov.org for more information.
Spring Equipping Classes (Four Week Session) Get equipped to be a more fully devoted follower of Jesus through joining one of our four-week Equipping Classes (no classes on the weekend of the Women’s Retreat). See pages 8-9 for full schedule.
MEXICALI CELEBRATION 12:45 p.m. • Worship Center Hear amazing stories from our students and adults who participated in our annual Mexicali Global Outreach trip over spring break. Donations will be accepted to help cover the cost of a light lunch before the program begins. All are welcome!
Growth Groups All Ages Various meeting times and places Get connected with a spiritual family here at First Cov by attending one of our weekly small groups. Groups meet during the week on various days and times all over the Sacramento area. Call Suzanne in the church office for more information about how to get plugged in.
Mosaic Line Dancing Senior Adults 9:30-11:00 a.m. • Room 200/202 Mosaic’s monthly line dancing (bi-monthly during summer). No experience needed. All seniors welcome.
all that God intends, not living lives of mediocrity. The study guide is available for $15. Contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
woMen’s Mid-Week Equipping Class Women Ages 18 + 6:30 p.m. • Chapel
woMen’s Mid-Week Equipping Class Women Ages 18 + 10 a.m. • Chapel
Come out with us to watch the River Cats play the Reno Aces at Raley Field. Don't worry if you're not much into baseball: there will be plenty of socializing on the lawn seating area. Bring a friend, the more the merrier! There are full details for every event on our facebook page at facebook.com/SolasSacramento
Kids Klub (Children’s Mid-Week Equipping Class) 6:15 p.m. • Room 110 “Deal or No Deal” and “Family Mechanics” will be the two sessions presented to children in this Equipping Class session. In the first four weeks, students will learn what the bible says about greed, materialism, tithing and stewardship. In the second session, children will learn how to handle conflict in the family, how to deal with difficult times and discover how they can help influence their parents’ attitudes by loving, honoring, and obeying them.
Men’s Mid-Week Equipping Class Men Ages 18 + 6:30 p.m. • Room 200/202 “The Battles Men Face” is the theme for our new study. Men deal with battles every day that test their core values, integrity, and spiritual manhood. This course is designed to help men succeed in life. It’s for men who desire to become
See description on April 27. Mosaic Line Dancing Senior Adults 9:30-11:00 a.m. • Room 200/202 See description on April 9.
Dream Center Outreach SOLAS Young Adults (Ages 18-28) 6:30 p.m.
Rivercats Game SOLAS Young Adults (Ages 18-28) 6 p.m.
Scrap, Craft or Sew Women 10 a.m.–5 p.m. • Room 112
See description on April 24.
Come out and join SOLAS on a free outdoor treasure hunt aka Geocaching. Bring a smartphone or GPS as you will need these to find the treasures. Also bring small treasures you can leave behind at these spots. There are full details for every event on our facebook page at facebook.com/SolasSacramento
Come serve with Solas at the Dream Center located in downtown Sacramento. We will be participating in their HELP Outreach, which seeks to reach our homeless community with tangible goods and the love of Jesus. There are full details for every event on our Facebook page at facebook.com/SolasSacramento
First Cov Women’s Retreat, "Living in the Meantime", will take place at Mission Springs in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains. Our retreat is preparing to dig deep into some new perspectives on how to become a woman who trusts God while in the waiting room of our circumstances. It’s not too late to join us. Contact Jennie at jnagy@ firstcov.org to register.
Sacramento Geocache Scavenger Hunt SOLAS Young Adults (Ages 18-28) All Day
“The Law of Love” is a new video-driven study by Beth Moore. Are you stuck? Wandering? Looking for your promised land? Asking, "What's the point?" He brought us out that He might bring us in (Deuteronomy 6:23). Discover and savor all the valuable “a-ha” moments of this study with us as we mine this significant book of the Bible, referred to as "the heartbeat of the Old Testament.” Contact Glenda at gharr@firstcov. org for more information.
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 Dan Wade at 916.861.1634 for location and specific dates. Women's retreat High School-Adult Women Registration begins at 4 p.m. on Friday Mission Springs
GO Trip to San Francisco 3rd-5th Grade Students This is our annual Global Outreach (GO) trip where we put into practice what it means to love and serve others the way Jesus did. This unique twonight trip is geared specifically for third through fifth grade students and is led by our Club 45 team in addition to Pastor Fred, Pastor Darin and Pastor Mark. Contact Kellee at kbaker@firstcov. org for more information.
Scrap, Craft or Sew Women 10 a.m.–5 p.m. • Room 112 Come on and get crafty and make some new friends! All skill levels welcome. Bring your supplies and a snack to share.
Orphans Table 12:45 p.m. • Chapel Chosen Ones will be providing you and your family an opportunity to experience a day in the life of an orphan: To walk in their shoes, to sit at their table, and pray for their needs. Join us for this eye-opening and unique interactive experience.
MOSAIC Food and Fellowship Senior Adults 9:30–11 a.m. • Room 200/202 Join us for a potluck brunch and a fun time of fellowship. All seniors welcome! Call Suzanne in the church office for more information.
ACTS Service Day 8 a.m. • Worship Center ACTS is an all church service day where we can be the hands and feet of Jesus, serving our community with no strings attached. Sign up with your Growth Group or contact Stephen at email@example.com for more information.
Club 45 “Identity Preview” 5th Grade Students 6-8:00 p.m. • Gym Join our Club 45 staff as we take a sneak peak into what happens in Identity Middle School Ministries on Tuesday nights. We will meet in the gym and allow current 5th grade students to hang out, meet the awesome middle school staff and students. No need to sign up! Just come on out and join us for a great night of fun. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Middle School “Renovate Preview” 8th Grade Students 6-8:00 p.m. • Room 214 Join our middle School staff as we take a sneak peak into what happens in Renovate High School Ministries on Wednesday nights. We will meet in room 214 and allow current 8th grade students to hang out and meet the awesome high school staff and students. No need to sign up! Just come on out and join us for a great night of fun. Contact email@example.com for more information.
On Eagles Wings Respite Night Birth through Age 14 6-9:00 p.m. • Room 101 See description on April 12.
Chosen Ones Pizza Lunch 12:45 p.m. • Room 200 Every 4th Sunday, Chosen Ones gathers for an informal lunch to support families who are interested in or currently on the journey of foster care or adoption. If you are a family who is in the process of fostering or adopting, or just have questions that you would like to ask, feel free to join us on the 4th Sunday for a pizza lunch for the whole family. $5 per family.
SHAPE Class Adults 12:45-4:30 p.m. • Room 205 The SHAPE class aims to help individuals discover and use their God-given gifts in order to gain a better understanding of how each of us is uniquely designed by God. The cost is $3 per person to cover a light lunch. Please note that child care will not be available for this class. Registrations begin April 28 at the Info Counter in the lobby. Contact Lynn at ext 661 or lcampbell@ firstcov.org for more information.
Finals Celebration SOLAS Young Adults (Ages 18-28) 6 p.m. Come celebrate the end of finals with a fire pit, s’mores, and all-around good time. It’s summer!!! There are full details for every event on our facebook page at facebook.com/ SolasSacramento
Union Gospel Mission Outreach SOLAS Young Adults (Ages 18-28) 7 p.m. Come serve with us at the Union Gospel Mission, which seeks to minister to and serve the homeless men, women, and children from the streets of Sacramento. There are full details for every event on our facebook page at facebook. com/SolasSacramento
10th Annual First Covenant Dance Studio Recital 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. (show is the same both times) Worship Center Free Admission. All are welcome. Featuring dancers ages 3 to adult in tap, jazz, hip hop, ballet, pointe, partnering, and more. Doors will open 15 minutes before show. We will be collecting paper bags and non-perishable food items for the Rancho Cordova Food Locker in the lobby that day. Contact Carolyn Melville at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preview Sunday Current 3rd, 5th and 8th Grade Students 10 a.m. • Rooms 212, 213, 214 If you are in 3rd, 5th or 8th grade, don’t miss our special Preview Sunday. Our student ministries pastors will be guest teaching today, allowing students to get a glimpse of what awaits them as they graduate into Club 45, Identity Middle School and Renovate High School ministries. Contact email@example.com for more information.
MOSAIC Food and Fellowship Senior Adults 9:30–11 a.m. • Room 200/202 See description on April 30.
Preview Sunday Current 3rd, 5th and 8th Grade Students 10 a.m. • Rooms 212, 213, 214 See description on June 2.
Congregational Meeting 12:45 p.m. Lunch on the Patio 1:30 p.m. Meeting in Worship Center Our semi-annual congregational meetings are more fun than any church business meeting you've ever attended! During this exciting event, we'll join together as a church family to engage in a great blend of worship from both our classic and modern services, listen to inspirational reports from ministry leaders, meet the newest members of First Cov, and approve the new Board of Elders. You don't have to be a member to attend—we encourage everyone who considers First Cov their church home to come!
Mosaic Line Dancing Senior Adults 9:30-11:00 a.m. • Room 200/202 See description on April 9.
to open their hearts to Jesus at an early age and to raise them in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). At the same time, the congregation pledges to love, teach and encourage these children and support their parents in this God-given trust. If you would like your child to be dedicated, contact Jen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Promotion Sunday K-12th Grade All students in Kindergarten-12th grade will graduate (move up) to the grade level they will be in the fall when school starts. Those entering Kindergarten will move into our Kindergarten class in Room 110. Our current Kindergarten students will now move to 1st grade. 1st grade to 2nd grade. 3rd grade students will move-up to Club 45 in Room 212. Our 5th grade students will moveup to Identity (Middle School) in Room 213. Our 8th grade students will move-up to Renovate (High School) in Room 214. Our 12th grade students will now join our young adult/college ministry, SOLAS. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Start of Summer Dance Session Ages 3 to Adult June 17- August 18 We offer a wide variety of classes, including ballet, jazz, tap, and more. New students are always welcome. Cost is $25-$30 per month. See the schedule at www.firstcov.org/dance. Contact Carolyn Melville at firstname.lastname@example.org
GriefShare Adults 6:30- 8:00 p.m. See description on April 16.
Club 45 Move Up Night Recently Graduated 5th Grade Students 6-8 p.m. • Gym All 5th grade have officially graduated out of Club 45 and are now a part of Middle School Ministries. Please join us tonight as we celebrate and welcome you to Identity. Contact dschoch@ firstcov.org for more information.
Identity Move Up Night Recently Graduated 8th Grade Students 6-8 p.m. • Room 214 All 8th grade students have officially graduated out of Middle School and are now a part of High School Ministries. Please join us tonight as we celebrate and welcome you to Renovate. Contact email@example.com
On Eagles Wings Respite Night Birth though Age 14 6-9:00 p.m. • Room 101 See description on April 12.
Sport’s Camp Ages 4-12 (by June 1) 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Mosaic Line Dancing Senior Adults 9:30-11:00 a.m. • Room 200/202 See description on April 9.
divorce care Adults 7-8:30 p.m. 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 Dan Wade at 916.861.1634 for location and specific dates.
Summer Blast Out West Celebration and BBQ 12:45-3:30 p.m. Patio and Worship Center Join us as we celebrate all the excitement from Summer Blast Out West. All Blasters and their families are invited to join us for an awesome Worship Service at 11:30 a.m. followed by a Cowboy BBQ ($5) and FREE waterslide and jump houses. We will also watch the video slideshow of the week and see if Pastors Fred and Dustin will get slimed! You don’t want to miss this epic celebration!
Middle School Summer Camp 6th-8th Grade Students Sierra Pines Christian Camp Water skiing at Lake Jenkinson, canoeing at Echo Lake, team competitions, campfire s’mores, great worship, and time with friends! Contact Darin at firstname.lastname@example.org or ext 636.
Mosaic Line Dancing Senior Adults 9:30-11:00 a.m. • Room 200/202 See description on April 9.
Renovate Summer Camp High School Students Sly Park Reservoir A week of high energy activities: Whitewater rafting, waterfall hike, beach day at South Lake Tahoe, tribe competition, kajabi-can-can, laser tag, spirit day and more. Enjoy good food, good friends and good times! Cost is $225 Contact Tim Layfield at email@example.com for more information.
Scrap, Craft or Sew Women 10 a.m.–5 p.m. • Room 112
See description on April 27.
Join us for this special Equipping Class taught by First Cov staff. See description on page 9.
Chosen Ones Pizza Lunch 12:45 p.m. • Room 200 See description on May 19.
Summer Blast Out West Ages 4-11 (by June 1) Entire facility
During a child dedication, parents pledge to raise their children in a way that will encourage them
Come experience the excitement and adventure that awaits you in the Wild West. Grab a sarsaparilla and join in the jamboree! There’ll be food, games, music, crafts and amazing true
Child Dedications All Services
stories acted out live before your eyes! Rustle up your kids and head on over to Summer Blast Out West for a rip-roaring’ good time! Registration includes shirts, bandana, snack, crafts and the best week of your summer! For more information, contact Kellee Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Register today online at www.firstcov.org/ summerblast
Summer Equipping Classes
On EagleS Wings Respite Night Birth though Age 14 6-9:00 p.m. • Room 101 See description on April 12.
Welcome to Sport’s Camp where kids will receive outstanding sports training and character development. Sport’s Camp will help students gain confidence and self-esteem by discovering God’s plan for them and will promote excellence on and off the field! Students will choose to concentrate on basketball, volleyball, or soccer. Register online at www.firstcov.org
Mosaic Line Dancing Senior Adults 9:30-11:00 a.m. • Room 200/202 See description on April 9.
Guatemala Global Outreach Trip High School Students-Adults Experience firsthand the amazing things that God is doing among some of the poorest communities of Guatemala. Join team leader Tina Breshears who worked with the schools of Lemonade International for over 18 months. Applications are available in the Box Office. Adults and high school youth are welcome to apply. Contact Pastor Mark at email@example.com for more information.
Scrap, Craft or Sew Women 10 a.m.–5 p.m. • Room 112 See description on April 27.
Mosaic Line Dancing Senior Adults 9:30-11:00 a.m. • Room 200/202 See description on April 9.
On Eagles Wings Respite Night Birth through Age 14 6-9:00 p.m. • Room 101 See description on April 12.
Scrap, Craft or Sew Women 10 a.m.–5 p.m. • Room 112 See description on April 27.
Fall Kick Off 100th Anniversary 100 years old…and still looking good! Celebrate First Cov’s Centennial with a spectacular allchurch birthday bash you won’t want to miss! More info coming soon!
All Church Campout Everyone 4 p.m. Friday, July 19-Noon, Sunday, July 21 (site check-out) Lake Francis Resort
Contact Jen Raynes at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in being baptized during our 100th Anniversary worship service.
Fun for everyone: Families, singles, and Growth Groups. Rustic and deluxe cabins, tent camping and RV hook-up sites available. Private lake, swimming pool, ball fields, boating, kids play area, and more. Registration will start in May.
For more information about these events, visit: www.firstcov.org or call the First Cov office at: 916.861.2240. WWW.FIRSTCOV.ORG
By Ana Smith “I’m doin’ fine. Really.” Are you? Am I? Did you reach for one of those useful masks in your wardrobe this morning in your attempt to bury your feelings of inadequacy and refrain from showing your true face? The selection is plentiful: The “I’m Happy” mask. The “I don’t care” mask. The “I’m very together” mask. The “I’m a victim of others” mask. The “I’m not hurt” mask. The “I am self-sufficient” mask. Just to name a few. The truth of the matter is that almost all of us, at some point or another, resort to appearances—we have made maskwearing an art. We pretend something is true that our experience denies. Such deliberate pretending covers the real us—a person longing for approval. In some instances, this pretending may even be fueled by a sincere desire to want to make God look good by having our act together. We cover our dirty laundry and think we are doing the right thing by “modeling” to the world how well God improves the lives of Christians. We can even convince ourselves that mask-wearing protects God’s work in his Kingdom. The more influence we have with Christ followers, the more we may be tempted to hide our true self for fear we will lose that influence. Naturally, we deny that we
wear a mask. To admit to such truth would be too painful and leave us feeling hopeless. Revealing our unresolved pain and the dark shadows of shame from our past seems dangerous and risky—a risk that we’d rather not take. We have deceived ourselves into believing that our masks have succeeded in their attempts at self-protection. In reality, the facade has tragically kept us from love, trust, authenticity, and freedom.
"We can even convince ourselves that maskwearing protects God’s work in his Kingdom." You see, unresolved pain and sin keeps us from true freedom and love because it causes an unhealthy preoccupation with our own lives. We want so badly to be mature and selfless, but instead, our unresolved sin keeps triggering selfcenteredness. We are so consumed in trying to maintain our image of worth that we become self-attentive, self-directed, and self-protective. As a result, we hide our heart and our self from what we most desperately need- the love of others and God’s love. Friends, the time has come to acknowledge the truth: We are not fine. Not fine at all. We’re hurting. We’re lonely and confused. We are doing a great
disservice to ourselves and one another when we pretend that we have it all together. It’s time to admit what we are really thinking: You have no idea who I am. I refuse to let you into the depths of my thoughts and soul because I’m afraid if I do, you’ll reject me. I am full of selfdoubt, fear, and shame. I have hurt and guilt from my past that haunts me and fills me with a feeling of unworthiness. I have spent my entire life serving God, yet I am broken, defeated, and full of lonely despair. Thank God that He eventually allows our masks to crack, chip and distort so that we don’t go our entire lives missing out on what we were created for—to fully know Him and to fully trust Him. God wants us to stop playing make-believe and admit the dirty truth: We are messed up! It is in that humble place that we can finally experience and truly understand His
abounding grace—His undeserved, unwavering, unearned inexhaustible love and absolute acceptance of us. It is an authentic, unhidden place, where our masks start to melt, our sin can be known and addressed, and genuine relationships begin to form. It is here where we liberate our souls and abandon ourselves shamelessly and entirely to Jesus. Ana is an elementary school teacher who has been on hiatus from the classroom for the last five years. She has a super duper hyper 4 ½ year old daughter, Ava, the ‘fashionista,” and a mellow yellow 2 ½ year old son, Mateo, the “sound effects” man. She is overwhelmed daily by the truth that the God of the Universe loves her, even during those times when she is most unlovable (see husband for details). While writing this article, she found a renewed sense of commitment to stop the pretenses and start keeping it real.
By Mark Shetler A man, sobbing and broken, curled up in the fetal position, laying on a cement walkway in his back yard. He was covered with shame and disbelief, not knowing if he could summon the strength to ever rise to his feet, let alone truly live life again. Sorrow had seized his soul, failure claimed his identity, and in his mind he heard Satan accusing him of being too dirty to ever be used by God again.
Recalling that scene from nearly sixteen years ago seems so far removed from the life I now live, yet the image is still very clear. I was a pastor, a Christian leader, a father figure and big brother to numerous youth group members, many of whom were labeled as “at-risk.” Now I was the one who claimed that label, battling depression because, despite all of my efforts, my marriage had failed. How could this be happening to me? I wasn’t perfect (who is?) but I tried to be a godly husband. I had been faithful to her. I still loved her and I pleaded with God to do a miracle to bring her back. But my wife didn’t want me anymore. She chose someone else. She never returned. I was alone
and rejected. How could I survive this? I wasn’t sure I could. I had never known such despair. I had never felt so dirty. A significant part of my battle was dealing with others’ reactions to the impending divorce. While I was graciously and incredibly surrounded by loving family and friends, it was painful for me to see how this breakup was affecting so many people. Although we were young, my wife and I had been placed on a bit of a pedestal in our church family. She had not only left me, but left the church, and everyone wanted to know what had happened. When some saw me they could not hide their disappointment, observing one of their spiritual leaders in such a state. Some asked me to explain the situation, but I did not even possess answers for my own haunting questions. Others could only look at me through tears, while still others were so uncomfortable that they avoided eye contact all together. And a few friends turned and walked away from me, which added to my disgrace. In addition to the pain of losing my marriage, I felt I also had lost my ministry and my ability to serve God’s people.
While I laid there so overwhelmed, I cried out to God and then relived an experience that was recorded in a rather obscure portion of scripture. In Zechariah 3, the prophet has a vision of a high priest named Joshua who was dressed in filthy garments. I am not a Hebrew scholar, but my understanding is that the vocabulary that is used here means that his robe was not just “smudged” or “dirty” but “filthy,” suggesting that it was covered with excrement. Satan stood by this pitiful, repulsive figure to accuse him, to belittle him, to convince Joshua that he had no place in the service of the Lord. I so identified with Joshua. But the vision states in verse 2, “The Lord said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan!’” (NIV). Like Joshua, I had no ability to defend myself against Satan’s attacks, and God understood that. He took care of the issue himself and told Satan to go you know where. The vision continues with an angel ordering Joshua’s filthy garments to be removed and to be replaced with rich garments. Then the prophet chimes in and asks for a clean turban to replace the disgusting wrap that was on his head. Like Joshua I was powerless to change the situation. I could not pretend that I wasn’t dirty. It was now part of my story. But the God of grace made sure it wasn’t the end of my story. He restored my life, lovingly washed away my past, challenged
me to walk more closely with him, and in time, restored me to a healthy place of church leadership. And because I had submitted to godly counsel and scriptural guidelines regarding divorce and remarriage, I was incredibly blessed when I met Melissa who would eventually become my beautiful wife and partner in the Lord. We have now been married for eleven years. Dirty laundry happens! Fortunately, we have a God who has a new, specially designed outfit tailored just for us. Let Him change your wardrobe. Need a story? Mark Shetler has one (or three) for any topic, in any situation, at the drop of a hat. The best ones come from his trips to exotic locales like Peru and India—and usually involve him getting sick (and the subsequent hilarity that ensues as a result). He detests Times New Roman (yes, the font) and is vehement about the negation of a certain word (that rhymes with “ambitions”) from any and all church vocabulary. He is, among other things, the Global Outreach pastor, people—no synonyms, please.
You see a homeless man with a sign asking for spare change. You:
a. Somehow forget the many blessings in your life (including a full time job and a savings account) and decide to cling to the few dollars in your wallet. b. Assume the man has done something wrong to merit his current circumstances and drive your car in a different direction. c. Have no change but offer the man the produce you just purchased at the store. You become enraged when the man declines your offer of vegetables, saying he preferred the cash which the individual one car ahead had given. d. Don’t believe him and chuckle at his attempts to deceive money out of you. e. Have $7 in your glove box for such situations. Your mother gave you the money, telling you to give all of it to a homeless person should you meet one. You disobey, giving the man $2 and keeping the "best" of the cash, the $5 bill, for yourself. f. Immediately pull your car over and give the man your wallet, the shirt off your back and the keys to your car.
You get pulled over for running a stop sign a mere block away from your house. You:
By Jessica Ripley
Eve: The mother of humankind, created in God’s own image —a sinner. Jonah: A convincing preacher, a prophet sent by God—a sinner. Cain: The first human child to be born, a physically strong individual—a sinner. Sarah: The mother of the Israelite nation, a loyal wife and loving parent—a sinner. Saul: The first king of Israel, fearless in battle—a sinner. Samson: Dedicated as a Nazirite, a man of unthinkable strength—a sinner. When told the stories of the Bible as a child, I formulated categories of "heroes" and "villains" in my mind. I know I’m probably not the only one who did this. As a kid, I assumed that I had it right: Noah was a hero, Judas Iscariot a villain. John the Baptist was a great guy, King Herod not so much. The "heroes," I thought, were perfect, sinless examples of who God wanted us to be. As a result, I was too enamored with the idea of Biblical "good guys" and "bad guys" in my early years of Sunday school to truly take in the truth of Romans 3:23. When the Bible tells us in Romans that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (NIV), it is not trying to skew facts or be overly dramatic. The point is blatant and clear. ALL fall short. Me, you, even the Bible heroes that I once placed on a pedestal—all sinners. But I think that realization was something to take comfort in—that those who strived to do God’s will and lived their lives the
best they could to glorify Him still struggled daily with sins. They were just like me. In their own way, each "hero" still fell short and desperately needed God’s grace and guidance. Regardless of their sin, those Biblical heroes remained faithful and trusted in God to do what they could not. This fact, not a perfect, sinless life, was what made them truly heroic. Whoa—even the biblical elite sinned!? With this new perspective, I saw not only the struggles which plagued their lives but also the ways in which they combatted their shortcomings with faith. I found that in my own life, I too sin just like Eve did. I forget the good things which God has blessed me with in my "garden" on Earth. Other times I sin like Cain, reacting in anger as a byproduct of my jealousy. Sinning like a "hero" is nothing to be proud of, but there is something to be said of learning from their faithful repentance of sin. The question then, is not, "Do I sin?" but rather, "What kind of sin do I commit?" Curious what kind of sinner you are? Take this simple, five question quiz and see which great, biblical "hero" had some of the same struggles as you. Take comfort in knowing God’s grace covers the sins that we ALL commit if we humbly ask Him.
a. Pass the blame off on a nearby tree, claiming its large, leafy branches were at fault and obstructed your view of the stop sign. b. Put the pedal to the metal and speed off in a different direction, even though the sirens are clearly signaling you to pull over. c. Freak out when the cop walks up to your car window and start making violent threats when he says your expired license is not an acceptable thing to offer him. d. Can’t believe you are getting pulled over because you are a respectable elderly individual and way past the acceptable age for driving recklessly. e. Grow impatient waiting for the cop to reach your car window and respond by stepping out of your car and making your way to the cop car. f. Receive an apology from the cop; he was in the wrong. You did indeed make a complete stop at the sign (you have a perfect driving record after all) and he was mistaken for pulling you over.
You are having a horrible Friday at work. Your boss is out of town and you know that you could leave early, unnoticed. You:
a. Do what you know you shouldn’t and take off early, enticing a fellow coworker to do the same. b. Stew over the fact that your boss does not deserve the time off, then spend the last three hours of your day lost in the book "Moby Dick" instead of working. c. Seethe in jealousy that your boss gets to be out of the office on a Friday and proceed to take your irrational anger out by confronting a coworker on an unrelated issue. d. Team up with a co-worker—both leaving early, then lying to the boss, telling him you stayed the whole time. e. Take off an hour early, but justify your actions by stating how exhausted and overwhelmed you were. You just need a “mental health hour”—after all, you deserve it for all the time you put in there. f. Stay at work, even putting in two hours of overtime to finish the work your boss set out for you to do.
At a PTA meeting, it is announced that your child’s class is having a bake sale and seeking a volunteer to organize the event. You work full-time, but sense God really wants you to make this particular sacrifice. You:
a. Give in to the temptation of a sneaky parent standing behind you who whispers: “Tell them you will be out of town that week…” b. Volunteer to do a different, less time-consuming task, assuming there is another parent who "deserves" this undesirable leadership role. c. Envy the parents who do not work and have the time to spare. Subtly suggest one of them for the job and half-heartedly bring a box of storebought, generic Oreos to the bake sale. d. Grow tired of the awkward silence as no one is stepping up to take the job. Doubting that someone might actually volunteer, you offer up the name of a woman standing near you. e. Discretely seek counsel from a friend via text message. When her response is a picture message of a plate of cookies and a link to an online recipe, you give in to the fact that you will inevitably be in charge of the event. So you suck it up and thank God for the opportunity. f. Instantly jump out of your seat to volunteer for the task. You end up baking seven dozen, perfectly round, melt-in-your-mouth, chocolate chip cookies.
You’ve just celebrated your brother’s birthday. When everyone else has gone outside to swim in the pool, you notice the single slice of chocolate cake that is left over. You know your brother already claimed the slice (rightfully, as it was a cake to celebrate his birth), but it just looks so delicious. You: a. Quickly think up a way to blame someone else so that you can eat the slice you know you shouldn’t. If asked, you will pass off the inconsiderate act on your spouse, saying that you saw the last slice there but opted to eat a piece of fruit instead. b. Ignore your gut feeling to not eat the cake because you do not feel as though your brother is truly deserving of it. He already had two pieces, after all (and they were NOT little!). c. Grow angry that your brother is favored to receive the slice and become jealous of his circumstance. d. Eat the slice. Your birthday is several months away and even though you are promised a cake on your birthday, you rationalize that your brother is young and will have plenty of other opportunities to eat cake. e. Make ake sure no one is watching and then reach out and grab a chunk of the cake slice, quickly cramming it in to your mouth. f. Cover over the slice in plastic wrap to keep it fresh for your brother and then place it in the refrigerator, next to a glass of milk for him to enjoy when he comes back inside.
If you answered mostly A: You are Eve. You easily fall prey to temptation and all too often forget the many blessings God has given you. Do not let these situations get the best of you—God provides you with all that you need at any given moment so you should not be in want of more. Stay encouraged by reading Ephesians 6:10-11: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes" (NIV). If you answered mostly B: You are Jonah. You know the calling God has on your life, but when His desires do not align with yours, you go off and do your own thing. Remember, we cannot always understand how God is divinely orchestrating our lives, and sometimes His call to you may not make perfect sense from a worldly point of view. If God has put a calling on your life, do not run from him. Instead, delight in doing the Lord’s work. When we do as God calls us, we please God. Remember John 15:14 in which Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (NIV). If you answered mostly C: You are Cain. You struggle with jealousy, but neglect to look to God in times of distress. Because of this, your reactions to tough, disappointing situations are not always rational, mature or godly. Your jealousy can quickly morph into rage and anger, making you act in regrettable ways. Remember that God is the best encourager, listener and means of support through your disappointment and sorrow. God does not want us to struggle through these tough times alone. Remember 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" (NIV).
If you answered mostly d: You are Sarah. Your faith in God’s promises easily waivers. You have trouble in times when you feel that God is not responding or when He responds in a way that is illogical to you. You feel a void or absence of God when the things you want are not happening at the time you want. In response, you sometimes try to take matters in your own hands, neglecting God’s perfect timing of all situations. Be encouraged and remember Proverbs 3:5-6 which tells you to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight" (NIV). If you answered mostly E: You are Saul. Your actions are impulsive and often unwise. You know God’s instructions but often opt for other options, thinking that your ideas are slightly better than those of the Almighty. You try to define your worth by worldly standards, falling prey to jealousy, greed and revenge. It is important to remember that your identity is in Christ and that you are worthy because you were created in His likeness. God has direction and purpose for your life and that is why it is critical you follow His instructions. Remember Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (NIV). If you answered mostly F: You are seemingly sinless. Hmmm. Please read Romans 3:23 and re-take the quiz when you’re ready to be honest. Ever wonder how long it takes to create the graphics or layout the text featured in the COMPASS? Only Jessica Ripley knows. At the ripe age of 24, she already has a pretty fancy title: Associate for Communications and Graphics and Executive Designer for the COMPASS magazine here at First Cov (okay, okay… she has TWO titles, but we thought that it would be a bit less intimidating to say it was just one really long one). Jessica has been full time with First Cov since September but just found the time to decorate her office in February (with a quirky assortment of ﬂags, zebras and hearts).
By Jennifer Raynes
“And I'll sit back and say to myself, My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!' " (Luke 12:19, NLT). The Bible is the great revealer of human nature—it pegs me every time. Although I’d never proclaim that as my life verse, I can’t deny that this is the way I think. I justify my lack of self-control with clichés: “Life is short. Don’t deny yourself anything you want. Go ahead, do what makes you happy. Have another [fill in the blank]. You deserve it...” After all, life’s about being happy, right? Here’s the thing—I’m not happy. When I’m pouring my time, money and thoughts into fueling my cravings at all costs, I’m completely miserable. Depressed. Yet, I keep believing that lie—thinking that this time it might actually be true. That lie that tells me that THIS is the thing that will satisfy me. This piece of chocolate. This little “innocent” fantasy of what it might be like if I was married to that cute guy that’s caught my eye. This new pair of shoes. Material things, food and men—I crave for them all in interchangeable measures, hoping they will be the solution to the happiness that seems to elude me. When I was 18 years old, I admitted to a room full of near strangers that I struggled with sinful sexual thoughts. That moment of confession was the first step towards healing, in a process that would take years to work through. Yet while the sexual nature of that struggle has been tamed to a very large degree (and I can claim freedom from past struggles), I must honestly admit that my battle with lust is far from over. For several years, I had the wonderful (humbling) privilege of leading intensive discipleship programs for young adults. Mentoring young women through
an intentional process of finding healing from their struggles, I noticed an interesting pattern in those I was discipling (one eerily similar to myself just a few years prior). Just when one would seem to be experiencing real victory from a previous lust, suddenly, a new struggle reared its ugly head. Struggling with sexual temptations was no longer my primary issue—now it was food. It’s not unusual for a sexual struggle to quickly turn into a food struggle. They’re both about lust. Wanting, desiring, craving something so intensely. Once we realize that one thing doesn’t have the ability to satisfy us like we hoped it would, we turn to something else. The object of our affection might have changed, but the hunger is still there—a hunger that drives us to overindulge, throw away self-control completely (“I’ll work on that later…”) and ultimately, seek to find a savior for our pain in something other than Jesus.
I choose to so openly share it, because I believe vulnerability begets vulnerability; it’s not merely for the purpose
I’m certainly not proud of this, but
of shocking you. If I confess my struggle to you, it may just give you greater courage to bring your struggle into the light. Scripture tells us that, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth” (1 John 1:8, NLT). When we are honest with ourselves (and stop living in denial of our issues) and others, however, God blesses us with a unique grace that can’t quite be articulated—you have to experience it for yourself to know just how much this vulnerability thing will change your life. In a moment of repentant confession, the hold that shame had on us is suddenly and dramatically broken. Although it certainly doesn’t sound pleasant (ripping our proverbial skeletons from the closet and exposing them is not exactly a prospect most of us get excited about), I can assure you that the end result is. It is the very thing the enemy fears. He knows we gain a stronger relationship with both God
and others when we step into the light (1 John 1:6-7). And when we step into the light we can begin to develop a strategy to move away from sinful behavior. So, in my attempts to distance myself from darkness, I have already admitted to you that the darkness is not always far from me. In fact, sometimes I choose it. I know the Sunday school answer, yet, I am led away by the lust of my eyes—stuff, guys and sweets. I believe the lie that the glorious taste of that glazed cruller will ease my anxiety of the day. I succumb to the deception that that ultra-cute purse will magically pep up my mood. I am convinced that finding Mr. Right will silence the deeper longing in my heart for unconditional love.
Yet all of these are lies. Total deception.
Just this last one, lust whispers coolly, this will fix it. The truth is whatever you lust for will never satisfy. Ever. Lust will tell you that if you feed it, it will go away. But it won't. It will always want more. I write this because I –equipping class teacher, former global outreach worker and full-time church staff member—need to be reminded of it daily. I need to constantly set the Truth before my eyes; the Truth that sets me free. And that—the boundless freedom of being ruled by nothing other than Christ—is truly what I crave.
“Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in You.” –St. Augustine While we’re in a tell-all mood here in this issue, Jen Raynes wanted to take a moment to confess her “secret ambitions” (yes, that was a 90’s Christian-culture reference to Michael W. Smith…don’t judge). If she weren’t the Editor of the COMPASS, Jen would have loved to have been a wedding planner, an indie singer (touring college-town coffee shops with “Brianrietta” [her guitar] in tow), a “career intern,” or a real-life princess at Disneyland. She’s still holding out for that last one…
meet tHe stAFF My
RAY RU ECK
Confessing those sins for what they were (and not making excuses) is what I felt the Lord told me to do. "
Trekking on this journey of discipleship for 42 years, I can truly say that walking with Jesus is a “one day at a time” thing. There are valleys and there are mountain tops, but through it all, trusting Jesus and surrendering to His will is something we must do daily. This truth has never been more clear than during the last 15 months–even after decades, there were still more areas of sin in my life that the Lord wanted to reveal to me. The most deplorable sin of all is unbelief. God gave me so much evidence of His amazing love for me in His Word–If only I would take hold of it and apply it to every situation in my life. King David committed this sin of unbelief when He numbered the people, because he wanted to know the strength of his armies, instead of trusting in God. Not only did the Lord point out the unbelief in my heart, but put His finger straight on my sin of pride. Outwardly, I can look like I’m living for Jesus, but inwardly, I’m acting like I don’t need Him.
This became abundantly clear to me after losing a successful business in December of 2011 that my wife and I had the privilege of building for 16 years, only to lose it in one day. A terrible day it was, but God amazingly used it for good, and is still using it for good. We had dedicated the business to the Lord, but the roots of unbelief and pride in my life were much deeper than I had imagined. When we lost everything, Terry and I clung to Jesus, learning all over again to trust Him, day by day. Confessing those sins for what they were (and not making excuses) is what I felt the Lord told me to do. It became clear that I needed to walk through the narrow gate and journey on the often difficult path that Christ calls us to walk. Painful and lonely as it may be, we were blessed with other believers that wanted to walk the road with us, specifically the members of our Growth Group. It’s been humbling not having a full-time job, but by making some big adjustments, God is seeing us through it. The true joy comes when we see God answer prayer. Terry and I have witnessed God do miraculous things. Just last week, I found out after many months of searching for full time employment, I will be attending that job training orientation. After successful completion of this orientation, I will be working for one of the largest and most well respected transportation companies in the U.S. Looking back at this last year, I can only thank God for this path He’s taken us on. Easy? No. Worth it? Yes, because with God the possibilities are endless.
DAWn jesKe ROlE at fiRst cOv:
Director of First Covenant Preschool
unsearchable things that you do not know” (NIV).
fiRst sEt fOOt On fiRst cOv:
This is my second time on staff! I was the Children’s Ministry Intern from 1995 to 1996 and then I came back in June 2005 to start the preschool.
My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Mayle. She noticed that I loved to read and gave me her entire set of Nancy Drew mysteries in a big grocery bag to take home and read. She really took the time to get to know me and helped me see myself positively. She is the reason I wanted to be a teacher.
favORitE pastimEs and hObbiEs:
Spring of 1993 at the La Riv church. JOinEd staff:
August 6 family:
My wonderful husband, Tom, and I have been married for almost 34 years. He is one of the most generous and helpful people I know. He is always fixing things for me, so we joke that his unofficial preschool title is Assistant Director in Charge of Some Assembly Required. We currently share our home with a very social and energetic Springer Spaniel named Teddy who loves to chase little green tennis balls. We have two adult sons, one on each coast, which gives us a great excuse to travel. Kurt is a creative director in New York City and Eric is a financial manager for Apple in Cupertino. We have two grand-dogs, Freddy and Oliver, but no grandchildren.
New York Times Daily Crossword Puzzles, Words with Friends on my iPad, and watching cooking shows on the Food Network. favORitE placE tO Eat:
Jack’s Urban Eats in Gold River. Urban Fries are my downfall. last mOviE yOu WatchEd:
The Hobbit. I got to see it with my boys in NYC over Christmas. WhERE dO yOu Want tO visit:
Any place with an ocean view! at staRbucKs:
Venti non-fat latte, extra hot, unless it is raining outside and then I treat myself to a grande non-fat chai latte, extra hot.
Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and WWW.FIRSTCOv.ORG
Sum m e r Blast
OUT WEST First Covenant Church
2 e 4 -28, 2013 n u j 18
A June 24-28 5:30-8:30 P.m. Children Ages 4 through 11 (by June 1)
Register today online at: firstcov.org/summerblast For more info, contact Kellee Baker at email@example.com
a o r r in' g p i ood time! r
Come experience the adventure that awaits you in the Wild West. Grab a sarsaparilla and join in the jamboree! There will be food, games, music, crafts and amazing true stories acted out live before your eyes! Rustle up your kids and head on over to Summer Blast Out West for a rip-roarin’ good time!
Cost $40 March 31–June 2 $50 June 3-15 $60 After June 16
Registration includes: • Shirt • Bandana • Snacks • Crafts • The best week of your summer!
Summer Blast Out West Celebration Sunday, June 30 | 12:45-3:30 p.m. Join us Sunday, June 30 as we celebrate the excitement from Summer Blast Out West. All Blasters and their families are invited to join us for an awesome worship service at 11:30 a.m., followed by a cowboy BBQ ($5 per person) and FREE waterslide and jump houses. We will also watch the video slideshow of the week and see if Pastors Fred and Dustin will get slimed! You don’t want to miss this epic celebration! WWW.FIRSTCOv.ORG
Every parent wishes that they had discipled their kids differently. I do–that’s the dirty truth in my life. My oldest is in middle school (the ministry that I pastor here), and my youngest is in fourth grade. I wish I’d spent more time reading the Bible with them, or intentionally serving our neighborhood for Jesus, or being consistent in having our weekly family night or a daily family devotional. Fatigue, busyness and other distractions h hoc c S have become excuses. And consequently, regrets. n dari
One role of the church, as it pertains to student ministries, is to supplement or add to, what is already happening in the home, not create something that doesn’t already exist. The pleasure and responsibility of teaching my children land on me, the parent, not my local church. I have found that too often, the church is not providing a supplemental role in our student’s lives, but rather is the sole provider of discipleship for
ate need to make t ministries, I see the desper den stu in g vin ser tor pas a As been a youth . Almost every year that I’ve discipleship at home a priority ng discipled at dents to see how they are bei pastor, I’ve sur veyed my stu ilies. e real needs within our fam home. The results expose som ool students. Below veyed 62 of our middle sch In Januar y of this year, I sur of that sur vey. are the results of a portion
many students. Sadly, this is even the case in homes where both parents are believers and are well established in the church. Parents love their kids and want to see them become godly men and women, but parents are regularly relying on youth groups, Christian schools or local pastors to disciple their kids. Many insights can be gleaned from this survey, but here are two. First off, as a parent, it’s my job to inspect what I expect.
If I’m not inspecting what sort of media comes into my home (via the internet, iPod, or T.V.), then I’m not fulfilling my role as being a protector of my home and safeguarding my family from evil. Secondly, these stats confirm an increasing absence of men filling roles of leadership, which make me ask, “Where are the men in the homes or at churches today when it comes to discipling the youth?” Here’s an interesting statistic from the Barna
research company about the effect Christian men have on seeing spiritual transformation happen in their home. The question is, “In a non-Christian household, if only one member of that family was to become saved, how likely is it that he/she can lead the rest of their family to share salvation in Christ?” The results—If the first person saved is a child, the likelihood that the child will lead his/her family to salvation is 3%. This percentage goes up to 18% if the
mother is the first person saved. And the number soars up to a staggering 93% if the father is the first person saved in the home. dads, God has given you an innate authority to affect change in your home and church. Why is your leadership so scarce? I love that we had over 250 men attending last year’s men’s conference here at First Cov. That says a lot and it should be applauded that men in this church want to fellowship and be fed. But in the same church we have only one dad who has stepped up to volunteer in our Middle School ministries, and one dad doing the same in our High School ministries. That’s a sad total of two dads in the whole church saying, “I’ll help disciple today’s youth where there has been an absence of fathers in the home doing so.” By the way, zero granddads helping in either ministry. Men, you’ve been telling yourselves, “Serving in youth ministry isn’t for me.” That’s true. It’s not for you–your sacrifice is for Him, and it’s for them (the students). We need your help, brothers! I hope surveys like this prompt families to begin praying and reading the Word together. I hope that parents and grandparents will pray for those adults in the church that are discipling a loved one of theirs. Pray for those leaders by name. If you don’t know their name, simply ask them for it. They’ll thank you—they need your prayers! Remember, God has been telling parents for thousands of years that it’s our job to disciple our kids. “These
commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, NASB). It’s never too late to start! There are some simple things Jana and I have done over the years to teach our kids more about God. We have a jar on the dining room table with 100 topics in it that prompt meal-time discussions. We use the “Family Night Tool Chest” series by Focus on the Family to guide family nights. There are tons of great devotionals out there too, but simply reading the Word together is the perfect tool and a great discussion starter. At night, we also ask our kids for their prayer requests and praises, and pray with them. Family discipleship is key if we want to see this generation of youth become passionate for Christ. The truth about our lack of commitment to this issue isn’t easy to read, but if you’re a parent, be encouraged to start fresh today and respond to God’s call on your life to disciple your household. Praise God for His heart for young people—may our hearts align with His! Mr. Darin Schoch is the Middle School Pastor here at First Cov. He and his wife, Jana, have a son and a daughter. He loves bacon, chocolate and going fishing. His dream is to enjoy all three of them at the same time.
After years of anguish and secrecy in my battle to fight off addiction, I thought James 5:16 was the final mountain of victory. When I realized my addiction was hurting more than just myself, confessing and repenting of my sin brought a huge breakthrough. But climbing that mountain only revealed that I still had a long way to go as I gazed upon the vast valley of rebuilding and recovery I had yet to cross. Bringing that battle into the light was a major step, but the day to day fight is
where the real work is. Argh! Many of you might relate to how literally gut-wrenching this process can be. What makes the whole thing worse is that we get pressure from all sides—from others, from Satan, from ourselves. But none of those things should sway us. All that matters is your acceptance of God through the grace of His Son, Jesus Christ. When you have Jesus, you’ve been redeemed. His redemption gives you a
peace to move forward, a comfort you can eternally rest upon, and a joy to wake you up in the mornings. We just need to be reminded in our daily journey. I have asked a cartoonist to illustrate the lyrics of the song “Redeemed.” These lyrics are a powerful reminder to me that it is in depending totally on God—not my own strength—that I will find victory to overcome the sins I struggle with. I hope this unique visual presentation will speak to your soul and inspire you to recover under the umbrella of God’s grace.
The content of this cartoon are the lyrics to the song “Redeemed” (CCLI# 6219086), as written by Benji Cowart and Mike Weaver. The drawings in this cartoon come from artist Benjamin Smith. The idea behind the combination of drawings and lyrics (and this article) came from Dave Enns, First Cov’s worship director for our Classic service.
Reﬂections on the Path of Your Average Cube-dweller Woe to me, for I am a woman of unclean lips! Some of the shady people I hang with, and the garbage I watch on TV, are infecting me. Okay, so maybe the real verse from Isaiah sounds a bit different. It actually says, "'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty'" Isaiah 6:5, NIV). Either way, the truth is I am a sinner with a potty mouth. It’s not as though I go around dropping F-Bombs like confetti everywhere. As a Christian, I prefer the lower case f-bombs. You know the ones I mean—freakin, friggin, frickin, fudge, eff-this or eff-that. Most of the time, the big F doesn’t even enter my head, except in rare moments of intense anger when F spills out of my mouth and blows my peaceful Christian façade to smithereens. Awkward!
Have you ever cussed in church or in front of a pastor and felt especially naughty? I have. I do. Sometimes I feel guilty about it, but typically I think I should feel more guilty for not feeling guilty. In all honesty, I don’t believe the people I’m with, my surroundings or the situation have any bearing on my sin, because God hears my impure words whether they are spoken publicly or confined to my head. He discerns them in my mind, soul, demeanor, and (most remarkably) before they infiltrate any part of my consciousness. When our lips are trashy, so is our heart. And God knows it.
letter words. For shock value and emotional release, nothing quite hits it home the way a modern expletive does. I know I am sinning, but I do it anyway. And while Christ’s forgiveness bountifully covers any
HAVE YOU EVER CUSSED IN CHURCH OR IN FRONT OF A PASTOR AND FELT ESPECIALLY NAUGHTY? I HAVE. I DO.
The aforementioned Isaiah recognized his shortcomings in the presence of an Almighty God who, through His kindness and magnificence, works all things for His glory, not in spite of, but through the lives of defective men and women. Like Isaiah, recognizing who God is compels me to continuously work at cleaning up my act. Understanding it will be a life-long process, I am encouraged and hopeful in the knowledge that God desires to (and still does) use a dirty girl like me.
transgression of my mind, heart and lips, I never want to take His grace for granted.
Popularized by culture, our socially taboo cuss words are nonexistent in the Bible. And yet, God’s Word warns us to keep our tongues and mouths from evil, perverse, deceitful, irreverent, corrupting, defiling, profane speech. My problem, the problem with swear words, as you may have noted, has less to do with actual terminology than the motivation or spirit behind saying them. This is true especially when directed at another human being, one created in the image of God. I may as well be swearing at God Himself, as if I would ever designate to the Almighty any of the labels I bestow on those who I believe wrong me. Woe to me, indeed! In the end I have to admit to you that sometimes I just like to cuss. It feels good to belt out my indignation, disdain and disgust with three, four, five and seven
One antidote for my obscēnus morbidus can be found in Philippians 4:8-9, aptly addressed by The Message paraphrase: Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
BY JENNIE NAGY
Who’s that sassy lady keeping the church office in line? That’s Jennie Nagy (obviously), Administrative Assistant of all things involving grownups and the church grounds. She’s the founder of As You Are (read all about it in Issue 3 of the COMPASS) and is a strong advocate for (and humble recipient of) second chances. After writing this article, Jennie admits: “I have a much greater awareness now of just how often I actually do cuss. Thankfully, God has surrounded me with the most gracious family, friends and co-workers.” (It’s true—we really like her a lot around here).
THere’s a guy at work I don’t LIKE. He doesn’t pull his weight, flakes out, cancels appointments, and doesn’t show up when he’s supposed to. I’ve spent a lot of time criticizing him to my fellow-workers. My thoughts go something like this: I’m a better employee than he is. I could do his job with one hand tied behind my back. I easily justify my gossip because the criticism is deserved.
BY jANE DALY
At a ladies’ Bible study recently, someone brought up the word repentance. As I listened to her talk, I thought, I don’t need to repent. Repentance is for people who aren’t saved. It’s for the wicked and sinful who are out in the world doing unspeakable things. It’s for people at a Billy Graham crusade who take the long walk to the altar to become born again. But it’s not for me. I’m
following God’s will. I’m a Christian. What do I have to repent about? When I look at my life, I use a sliding scale of righteousness. I’m not as bad as him, but I’m not as good as her. I assume I'm doing all the right things, and I rarely question my motives. One day, I heard that my coworker’s boss put him on written warning. I secretly gloated he might lose his job. Imagine my surprise when the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. He reminded me of a verse, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9, TNIV). This was like a baseball bat to the solar plexus. I knew I had to repent. How could I bring my offering to the altar of God with hate in my heart?
What I’m learning about repentance is this: God, Your word says I’m to be the expression of your love and grace to humanity. To my brother, my neighbor. Let me see this person through your eyes. Is he a lost and dying soul? Yes. Does he need Jesus? Definitely. The only
Repentance hasn’t been easy. I try to change my behavior on my own. I tell myself I’ll try harder, do better, and stop criticizing. When my co-worker’s name comes up, I’ll think only happy thoughts. As if it’s up to me. I can’t even repent without Christ! He reminds me again and again how His grace was extended to me when I didn’t deserve it. It’s been difficult. I don’t like the guy at work, but God tells me to love him. My flesh likes to feel superior, but God tells me to put to death the deeds of the flesh.
thing my criticism does is make me feel better for a short period of time. Thank you for the grace to love him. And thanks for reminding me that his performance is none of my business.
MEEt THe STAFF
Every time I return to criticism and gossip, I crawl back to Jesus—confessing my sin and wanting to start over. I’m grateful for God’s grace and the forgiveness I receive because of Jesus, who took on the sins of the world. Even my gossip.
Role at First Cov:
My role here at First Cov is to oversee and give vision to everything that happens with children on Sundays. I have the greatest job in the world! Joined Staff:
My first Sunday at First Cov was February 10, 2013. This was also the first day I walked onto the campus.
My childhood hero was my grandfather, Delmer Lee Latta, who just recently passed away. He was an incredible man and example of a true Christ follower. Favorite Pastimes and Hobbies:
Baseball and football are my two favorite sports. I enjoy cycling, mountain biking, messing around on my skateboard and proving to my kids I can still tear it up!
Favorite Place to Eat:
Well, some may refer to it as a tribe. My wife (and better half) Brandie and I were married in February of ‘99 and have since brought four other Larsens into the world. Payton, age 10, is our creative, free spirit who never stops singing. Brody, age 7, has a big heart and an equal sized imagination. Beckham, age 6, never stops moving and keeps us laughing. Piper, 9 months, is our ray of sunshine that has brought unimaginable joy to our family. Favorite Scripture:
Jane Daly is the amazing Queen of Rancho Cordova… just ask anyone and they will tell you it’s true. She’s a VP at First Bank, writes articles for the COMPASS and stays in her husband's jet stream as he teaches Equipping Classes and leads their Growth Group. She was a tad apprehensive at the prospect of bearing her soul to the whole church (“It is scary to think everyone will read my article and judge me”), but she eventually came around. The only obstacle now? "I almost hope my coworker never comes to First Cov! He'll know right away that I was talking about him." (Oops!).
My favorite verse is John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (NIV).
Blue Nami Sushi. I love the wasabi sauce that sends a burn up my face and to the top of my head! Last Movie You Watched:
Where Do You Want to Visit:
If I could go anywhere in the world, I'd vacation in Tahiti with my wife. I've never been, but it sounds like a place I'd like to go. At Starbucks:
I'm not a big coffee drinker, but I'm always up for an Arnold Palmer: Iced tea/lemonade.
Don’t Make Me Angry, You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry. By Rolando Cordova
By Rolando Cordova
n the opening narration to the 1970’s version of “The Hulk,” Dr. David Banner tells Mr. McGee: "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.” While we may laugh at how melodramatic this sounds, the truth is that unchecked anger is really no laughing matter. Scripture tells us that, “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly” (Proverbs 14:29, NIV). The Message paraphrase of this same verse says tells me that a quick tempered person “stockpiles stupidity.” Yikes! In Banner’s case, his transformation into the Hulk was triggered by inner rage and anger, combined with an accidental exposure to the blast of a gamma bomb detonation. While I’m fortunate enough to have never been exposed to a stew of radioactive chemicals, the fact remains that like Banner, I also struggle with a strong temper. Yes, even as a Christian. While I could go into a whole plethora of triggers that cause me to lose my temper, I would be lying if I said my kids weren’t one of them. Now before anyone gets ready to throw down this magazine to condemn me, permit me to expound. As a loving father, I only want what is best for my children. Yet there are times when my girls misbehave and get into little fights that leave me pulling my hair out and eventually yelling at them. It breaks my heart to think that in those moments of weakness that I might be provoking them to fear me instead of demonstrating Christ-like patience, discipline and understanding. In losing my temper with my daughters, I also stir up anger in them instead of taking them by the hands and leading them in the ways of the Lord. In those moments, BEFORE the outbursts, I pray I remember words like these: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, NLT). Anger, without control, thwarts us from the path of righteousness we so long to follow. Unlike the Hulk, who had no self-control, we have One in whom we can put our trust to help guide us through those times. Romans 7:24-25 from the Message is comforting here: ...Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the inﬂuence of sin to do something totally different. Jesus set things right. That's the key. Through His victory, I can learn self-control and not be pulled around by my rage. So am I a believer who wants to have a heart after God? Yes. Am I a believer who wants my heart to break for the things that break His heart? Yes. Am I perfect? Most certainly not. I’m still a “piece of work” in progress. Rolando Cordova is the self-proclaimed guru of 80's pop culture references and the father of "Rolandom Facts and Potentially Pointless Observations." Rolando’s life consists of God-time, family-time, books, movies and the gym. He frequents the 8:30 a.m. service here at First Cov, Global Pipeline on Sunday afternoons and Starbucks on Tuesday nights for Operation Timothy.
By Amy Byrne
with the mind-numbing statistics that get thrown around. Statistics like: 153 million orphans in the world, 408,425 children in the foster care system in the U.S., 107,011 children waiting to be adopted in the U.S., and about 3,000 children in the foster care system in the Sacramento region (including approximately 800 waiting to be adopted). Is this overwhelming? Yes. Not enough of me to go around? Definitely. Are they forgotten? Absolutely not. Just writing these statistics can feel like a burden, but I am reminded of the truth: Our God has a heart for the hurting, the helpless and the orphan. “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18, NASB). Although the world may be overwhelmed by the numbers, He has not forgotten.
Not-Forgotten Overwhelmed... Not enough... It’s just too big... Forgotten… These are just a few of the thoughts that come to my mind when I hear about the despair and hurt in our world. Lies like these paralyze me, keeping me from doing and being who God has called me to be. Like me, I’m sure you are also bombarded daily with the immense needs around you, within your own personal life, the lives of others, or those of the world beyond our borders. Much of the overpowering needs that I struggle with are connected to
orphans. Orphans are children who are without parents. They may be a foster child, may have lost a parent due to illness, war, or abandonment, or they may have even been placed in an orphanage by a parent living in poverty who does not have the resources to care for their child. Caring for these children—whether through prayer, finances, becoming a family to them, crossing borders to visit them, or being a support to those who have stepped in to love these children— is called orphan care. As I am being challenged in the area of orphan care both locally and globally, I have to grapple
I think of the many children waiting for families and then I remember my son, a sweet little boy who I had the privilege of working with while he was in foster care. God used my relationship with him as his social worker to provide him with a forever family. I think of other children who have been brought into families within our church through foster care and adoption and I am reminded once again: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:5-6a, NIV). Although there are still children waiting, He has not forgotten. I think of the child with special needs, the one exposed to drugs and alcohol en utero. I think of the one with behavioral challenges as a result of a stress-filled youth and I am reminded of the truth. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb… I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well… Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16, NIV). Although there are obstacles to overcome, He has not forgotten. I think of my own status as an orphan before God brought me into His family and I am reminded of the truth. “…In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 1:4-5, NIV). He has not forgotten.
As I think of His word, I am reminded yet again of what James says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27, NIV). He has not forgotten. And He has asked us, His children, not to forget either. He has asked us to care too—to be His hands and feet, to intercede physically by bringing children into our homes, or to walk alongside families who do, carrying their burdens (Galatians 6:2). He has asked us to care and to respond, lifting our voices in prayer (Isaiah 58:9). Responding is the purpose of Chosen Ones, First Cov’s orphan care ministry. One of the ways you can be a part of responding is to come on April 28 to an interactive experience called Orphan’s Table. Chosen Ones will be providing you and your family with the unique chance to experience a day in the life of an orphan, to walk in their shoes, to sit at their table, and to pray for their needs. Put simply, you will be given a specific and powerful opportunity to respond to the need of orphans. My heart for orphan care is a result of God taking me and my family on a journey that has caused us to struggle with the challenges of what orphan care really looks like on a daily basis. It means stepping into the overwhelming need and giving God permission to disrupt my life so that only He gets the glory. This process has caused us to learn to fully trust Him and to rely on Him daily. We are not perfect, but we are so thankful for a Father who does not forget us. We invite you to join our family, and many others at First Cov, as we respond in caring for those whom God has not forgotten. Orphan’s Table will be held on April 28 in the chapel after the last service. If you would like to attend, please pick up a ticket in the box office on or after April 7. Amy Byrne walks this adventure called life alongside husband Jamey and their three children; Robbie (5) who was adopted from foster care, and Lilly (6) and Levi (3) who came the good old-fashioned way. Amy leads Chosen Ones, First Cov’s orphan care ministry. She is a former foster care social worker and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. To balance out the “mom life,” in between loads of laundry, Amy loves watching "Downton Abbey" and reading a good novel.
fiRst sEt fOOt On fiRst cOv campus:
When I was 10 years old. May 2003. yEaRs Of vOluntEERing:
My first time volunteering was in January of 2009, so itâ€™s been over 4 years now. I make the orchestra packets for the Classic service. I also do any odd jobs needed around the office, usually relating to the music.
favORitE pastimEs and hObbiEs:
Dancing and sewing. Iâ€™ve been in the First Cov Dance Studio for nine years and my favorite style of dance is jazz. I like sewing and altering dresses and wedding gowns. My favorite sewing project is to work on is a fancy dress from beginning to end. favORitE pizza tOpping:
Pepperoni. Boring, I know.
Why dO yOu vOluntEER:
My mother encouraged me to explore different occupations, and the church office seemed like it would be a good experience. I love helping in the office in any way I can! family:
meet A VOlunteer
My dad is a librarian at the Central Library downtown. My mom was a probation officer but turned in her badge when she had children. She homeschooled me and my two siblings. I am the oldest (18) and I just graduated last year. My brother is 17 and will graduate this year. My sister just turned 14 and is starting high school.
Brussel sprouts. Not as boring. lEssOn that gOd has bEEn tEaching yOu latEly:
Recently He has been teaching me that I need to trust Him in any and every situation. bEst vacatiOn EvER:
thREE WORds tO dEscRibE JEsus:
Servant. Healer. Comforter.
ALL CHURCH CAMPOUT Fun for all ages: Families, singles and Growth Groups. Rustic and deluxe cabins, tents and RV hook-up sites available. Private lake, swimming pool, ball fields, boating, kids play area, and more. REGISTRATION BEGINS IN MAY
An Anonymous Letter From Pastor PC Walker Allow me to introduce myself: My name is PC Walker. I am a hypocritical Christian pastor. I am not ignorant to the common (and sometimes accurate) perceptions of me— Horribly hypocritical, explicitly concerned with conversions, hateful to homosexuals, pompously political and judgmental. I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt. I have hope, but I get discouraged. I sincerely love people, but I throw the word “hate” around like it’s candy in a parade. I trust a lot of people, but I am reserved and guarded from most. I am honest, but I lie. Aristotle says I am a rational animal. Brennan Manning says, “I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.” A couple I had really admired recently informed some friends they were splitting up. I admired them for their faith and their lifestyle. They were different and more engaging than most Christians I know. Christians are surprised it is even POSSIBLE for them to get to a point where divorce happens. We start to believe that becoming a Christian brings us innate morality exceeding that of non-Christians. We forget we hold ourselves to a different moral standard, but it makes us far from morally superior. A common frustration with Christians is, “They think they are better than everyone else." Moment of truth—we absolutely do! No matter how many "Not Perfect; Just Forgiven" bumper stickers we put on our car, we really are convinced we are innately more moral than others. Before you begin your investigation into me, I will tell you right away, “I’m not as bad as you think: I am worse!” No
and that is not going to change because PC Walker wrote some stuff in a church magazine. I am in desperate need of Another outside of myself, because left to myself, I am nothing. There is nothing about ME that makes me better than anyone. I want to point out Someone who is far better than me and makes me a better person than I am. The theme of Jesus’ life (and the life I TRY to live) is a growing intimacy, trust, and love with the Father. Even in my most hypocritical and embarrassing moments, I have experienced this love and hope. God revealing Himself in my weakest moments changes the way I come closer to God, but it also changes the way I come to know and see people. A Russian novelist said we should have our vision healed in order to love people by seeing them as God intended them to be. I contrast that to Nietzche who wrote in his autobiography of an ability to “smell” the “abundant hidden dirt at the bottom” of any person’s character. My name is PC Walker. I am a hypocritical Christian pastor who is daily and desperately learning how to have a clearer vision of people without the ability to smell. If you investigate my life, or that of another Christian, you will undoubtedly find worse things. But if you investigate Jesus and decide to live your life as best you can to be like Him, you will find a perfection worth dedicating your life to follow. PC Walker drinks more coffee than is good for him. His guilty pleasure is the Shamrock shake from McDonalds and he hates the movies Princess Bride, Goonies, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off (“That felt good to get off my chest…” he confesses). PC is First Cov's College and Young Adult Pastor.
matter what dirt you dig up about me, or other Christians, I assure you there is more.
For decades and centuries, the Christian church has been a remarkable mess,
Movie Reviews by Matt Tory
Blue Like Jazz
Rated PG-13, Available now on DVD
Rated PG-13, Available now on DVD
Loosely based on the wildly popular autobiographical book by Donald Miller, “Blue Like Jazz” is a hip, edgy, and oftentimes funny drama that, despite being labeled “Christian,” may hit home even more with those outside church-culture. And just because it’s a “Christian movie,” don’t take that to mean it’s necessarily “family-friendly.” “Blue Like Jazz” tells the story of Don, an impulsive teenager who decides to abandon his Bible-belt home for life at an ultra-liberal college in Portland, Oregon. When Don arrives on campus, he is confronted with all sorts of strange and unexpected students, ranging from a new lesbian friend, to the “pope”—a student held in high regard who works to “free” others from the damages and harms of religion. All of these new friends—the polar opposite of his church friends back in small-town Texas—cause him to wrestle with questions about life, religion, and faith. The film is an excellent conversation starter, humorously (albeit a bit brutally) exposing some of Christianity’s “dirty laundry.” It brings to light subjects many Christians seem to want to avoid in their films, such as hypocrisy and sexuality. Several unsettling family situations occur before Don leaves for college that initially trigger his crisis of belief. These particular circumstances expose the hypocritical ways of the Christian characters in the film, which, while uncomfortably relatable, serve to put “Blue Like Jazz” in a controversial light both outside and inside the church. However, the film’s ultimate focus on the fallen nature of humanity and our need for grace through Jesus trumps any question about its loyalty when it comes to Christianity.
As a huge fan of the book, though, I admit I was let down by “Blue Like Jazz,” as it seemed to lose some of the heart and spirit that made Miller’s book such a success. The book’s crucial honesty and self-reflection is tamed here, essentially giving the film an entirely different feel and message. The filmmakers are to be commended, though, for tackling such a tough work to translate to the screen, seeing as the book is essentially a grouping of essays on different experiences and reflections Miller had regarding the nature of God and the role of Christianity. (Miller also includes a few illustrations in the book, which may cause those unfamiliar with it to be confused by the seemingly random appearance of a spaceman or giant rabbit in the film). Those tempted to think a Christian label equals appropriate for all ages do need to be aware, however, that “Blue Like Jazz” does not shy away from offensive language and sexual topics. But if the honesty and true-to-life stories here are any indicator of where the future of Christian filmmaking is headed, I think that’s a reason to celebrate. I’m probably not alone in thinking most “Christian” movies today are predictable fare with unoriginal plots, cookie-cutter characters and focused on delivering a forced message. “Blue Like Jazz” is a step in the right direction. Because of that, “Jazz” is an important movie, however flawed in execution it may be. It’s a surprisingly unique film which aims to provoke discussion, challenging those on both sides of the religious spectrum. The film’s heart is in the right place, but if you really want to experience the true spirit of the story, I recommend picking up a copy of Donald Miller’s book, “Blue Like Jazz,” from your favorite bookstore. Its thought-provoking stories and honest meditations on our relationships with our Creator will stay with you far longer than the film.
Based on one of the world’s greatest works of modern fiction, “Les Misérables” is a bold and emotionally gritty musical from Tom Hooper, the director who brought us 2010’s Best Picture, “The King’s Speech.” Boosted by powerful performances from numerous big-name actors like Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, this film proves itself both heartwarming and inspiring, even in the face of a dark and gloomy storyline. “Les Mis” centers on the redemptive character arc of Hugh Jackman’s Jean Valjean. Once a convict, Valjean has slowly turned his life around, finding love in his adoptive daughter, while simultaneously struggling with the demons of his past. As the story continues, Valjean must come to grips with the sins of his former life and take responsibility for them; in this, he ultimately finds freedom through letting go of his fear and selfishness. It is only when Valjean enters a place of confession in his life, that he experiences true relief. The film brings up many topics virtually absent from most Hollywood blockbusters, including morality, faith, sin, and the nature of love. It is a refreshing story of redemption where light shines its way through the darkness. By the end (I’m not giving you a spoiler alert, you’ve had 150 years to read the book by now), Valjean is forgiven of his wrongs, and is met by grace. While Christians can argue over whether the film’s depiction of that scenario is accurate or not, it is refreshing to see such a scene of mercy and forgiveness play out on the big screen. Jean Valjean, sins now forgiven, is celebrated for the life that he lived and the way he turned his existence into one that helped others.
“Les Misérables” is a little long and over the top, but when it works, it’s magical. There is simply no denying the incredible power behind Anne Hathaway’s rousing adaptation of “I Dreamed a Dream,” as well as the emotionally satisfying musical finale. The nonstop singing in place of dialogue between musical numbers starts to feel a bit tedious as the film progresses, but its high points make the experience worthwhile. Though imperfect, it is one of the most exceptionally made musicals of the decade. It may not be a film for everyone, but “Les Misérables” is a well-crafted and deeply satisfying experience.
Matt Tory is currently a Film Major at Biola University, working towards his goal of one day being a light for Christ in the film industry. As a student, his time is mostly spent going to class, doing homework, more homework, watching movies, and doing more homework. He is always thankful for any opportunity to discuss movies and the role they play in our lives, whether in print or in conversation! So, say “Hey!” sometime if you see him around. He probably won’t bite (it’s only happened once).
meet An elDer
invOlvEmEnt at fiRst cOv:
Julie and I lead a Growth Group together in our mission station home. I serve with Jeff “Fisher of Men” Koons on his men’s leadership team and lead a men's small group on Wednesday nights. I also serve on the Global Pipeline Ministry Team with Mark “Watch out, Satan!” Shetler. We help Mark in the support and care of existing and potential Global Outreach Partners. I was blessed to have been on the scouting team that God led to Kite City and love the fact that First Cov is a globally-minded church. I love the quote: “Only as the church fulfills her missionary obligation does she justify her existence”— Unknown (but somebody smart).
Waldron. Runner up: Ball tag with Scott’s son, Spencer. Second runner up: Frisbee golf with Josiah at 7 a.m. before work. favORitE spORt tO Watch:
a pERfEct WEEKEnd:
It would involve all of these things in no particular order: Running, coffee, friends, family, Hawaii, walking with my wife, praying, reading, quiet times, a child’s hand in mine. No drama, no stress. mOst REcEnt music dOWnlOad:
For King and Country
last clOthing puRchasE:
favORitE spORt tO play:
Running with my soul brother, Scott
rOb HArgrAVes fiRst sEt fOOt On fiRst cOv campus:
friend of his and I (of course) said yes. I had no interest in the moving part, but the beautiful friend part was enticing. We began our relationship several years later at that same friend’s wedding (to someone else, mind you). Julie and I were married six years later.
WhEn did yOu accEpt chRist?
What OthERs shOuld KnOW abOut fiRst cOv:
March 1995. The first four services I attended were during a capital campaign and the sermons were all about money and tithing. I remember thinking: “I can’t afford to go to this church!” I soon found that I could not afford not to be there. I was invited to a church camp when I was 14. I did not know anything about religion, church or salvation. Throughout the weekend as I learned about Christ and what He did for me, I was emphatically crushed, gently drawn, and changed forever. My worldview would never be the same. The other part of the story, which I like to call “The years of living dangerously,” is prodigal in nature and is testament to God’s constant mercy, grace and patience. It definitely was a process for me to get to the place I am now.
First Cov is such a loving, warm, and welcoming congregation. We believe in and teach the truth of the Bible. No watering down or compromise for the sake of cultural relevancy or numbers. As a church we emphasize living up to a high standard of holiness, but with a huge hand of grace. If someone is looking for week-to-week excellence in worship, equipping, outreach opportunities, and a first rate, spirit- packing pastoral staff, this is the place! favORitE biblE stORy:
I work for DST as a Senior Client Services Liaison. We are a global provider of technology-based service solutions, serving markets of asset management, brokerage, retirement, insurance, and healthcare. family:
Julie and I met in the Bay Area in 1987 where we both lived. A friend asked if I would help with moving this beautiful
I love drama, except when it involves me, so I am partial to Elijah on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18:16-46. You get it all: Drama, courage, adversity, deliverance, incredible faith in action— you even get comedy (yes, God is funny!). Elijah taunting the prophets of Baal in verses 27 and 28 is classic. The whole scene from beginning to end shows the breadth of God’s character, from His righteous wrath, to His unending mercy. Oh, and did I mention the comedy?
A dress shirt….how boring!
Confessions of a Worship Leader I’ve always found the worship leader/ congregation relationship to be a little awkward. You come in to the worship center and take a seat. I stand on stage in front of you and sing songs, read scripture, pray, maybe tell a little anecdote or two, and then I exit. There’s a little bit more to it than that, but that’s basically our relationship in a nutshell. So, I sing, but what else do you really know about me? Who am I as a person? What right do I have to stand in front of you and make you sing along with me? How can I ask you to be vulnerable with God, each other and with me? The truth is that most of you don’t know me at all. You may feel like you do because you see me every Sunday, but that’s just your perception—and I can pretty much guarantee that what you think you see is not the real me. In fact, what you really see is me on my best behavior for an hour each week. Just ask my wife. In light of this, I thought I would take some time to be honest with you and reveal the real me. Some of these things may put to rest some misconceptions you might have about me (or worship leaders in general). Some may even surprise you.
You might assume that since I am a worship leader, I must constantly listen to Christian music. Truth is I DO NOT (GASP!!!). I actually listen to very little Christian music outside of job-related activities.
You may mistakenly believe that since I lead worship on Sunday mornings, I am a morning person. FALSE: I am not a morning person by any means and I carry a lot of resentment towards whoever first decided that worship services should happen on Sunday mornings. I’m a musician and a night owl.
#3 You might think I’m an extrovert. It
goes with the job, right? Actually, NO! I am very much an introvert who becomes an extrovert out of necessity. I usually prefer solitude, or the company of a few, as opposed to the masses. I’m not often the center of attention at parties.
You may have thought that I have two of the cutest little girls on the planet and could never get angry with them. WRONG AGAIN. As cute as they are, and as much as I love them, I have literally
BY DAN DEMURI
yelled at them out of anger and frustration right before stepping on stage to lead you in worship. I’m not too proud of that.
#5 You’ve probably seen my wife and
I serve together in worship, believing we must have the most harmonious marriage ever. NOT EXACTLY. I do love my wife and we get along for the most part, but we’ve had our share of heated arguments too—sometimes right before worship services.
You may think that I must worship on a deeper and more meaningful level than you. I WISH that were true. But again, that is just not the case. There are so many times that I have found myself in the middle of a worship service and I realize that I have not personally engaged with God at all. I realize that I’ve only focused on singing the right lyrics, playing the right chords and following the service schedule as we planned it. Or maybe I was even thinking about other things that had nothing to do with worship at all.
#7 You might also think that since I am
a worship leader, I have a really intimate and incredible relationship with God. Unfortunately, NO. I, like many of you, struggle with intimacy with God and I’ve often gone weeks without reading my Bible (can I say that?). I find it very hard to be disciplined in the reading of God’s word and it’s a constant struggle for me.
These are just a few “confessions” of a list that is, truthfully, much longer. But I chose to share these things with you because I do believe that if we are going to continue to worship God together in a more intimate way, then we must learn to be more open and honest with each other. Although I cannot possibly know each and every one of you on a personal level, I do want you to know more about me so that we can begin to deepen our worship times together as the body of Christ. Dan DeMuri is the Director of Modern Worship at First Cov. He and his wife Meghan have two beautiful little girls named Adalyne and Holly. Lately their hobbies are their hobbies and they wouldn’t have it any other way. He loves leading you in worship every Sunday morning and feels relieved to finally reveal all the secrets he just divulged here. Now we can get on to the worship… WWW.FIRSTCOv.ORG
F irst Cov's
n o i versar y Celebrat and