Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Grateful New Year?

Dear Friends, as Jackie and I pause to reflect on this past year, we are filled with gratitude for each of you. Not just at New Years, but throughout this past year that began with the Souper Bowl of Caring that stocked the church food pantry, followed by our annual global outreach banquet entitled Valentines for India where we raised nearly $4k for a vocational trade center in India. Thanks to your generosity, sons of sex workers there will be learning a different trade other than pimping or dealing drugs!

Around Easter we celebrated with six more individuals who were baptized and committed their lives to following Jesus. Our evangelistic non-profit organization, Haven of Hope, performed two bedroom make overs and was the recipient of grants through our partnership with Toledo Area Ministries for two more. The spa day for the women at the Aurora House that Women’s Ministries provided was again very well received.

Our own children grew in grace too through the combined ministries of Kid Connect, Teen Girls Retreat, Adventurers, Pathfinders, Sabbath School, and Connections. Watching them play in the park on hot summer Sabbath afternoons and dancing in the puddles at the Kidz Crazy Car Show this year brought smiles to numerous faces including all 15 trophy winners.

Summer fasting from sweets and media brought us closer to the heart of Jesus. And led us to into a full scale church retreat that nearly a hundred experienced—many for the first time at a retreat of any kind. And because the Holy Spirit has blessed our ordinary outreach opportunities from ten years of Ringfest to the first few months of Soup for You on Wednesday nights, we know God will continue to bless in the new year. I can hardly wait to see what new adventures, surprises and miracles God provides in 2010!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Where Is Pastor Mike?

The Ohio Conference encourages their pastors to take a four to six week study break every four years to rest or participate in an enrichment activity to ensure that they don’t burn out. Pastor Mike last took a break in 2005 (before he came to Toledo), so during the month of January, he will be on sabbatical. Though Pastor Mike and Jackie will be joining 35 other Ohio pastors [including Pastor Rachel!] during the Pastors Familiarization Tour of Israel January 19-26, most of the time he will be in Toledo, enjoying the peace and quiet, reading the stack of books he hasn’t read yet but wants to, while taking care of the kids.

Please feel free to speak to him like normal about anything not related to church, school, or daycare! We want him back January 30th re-energized and encouraged—not drained because we didn’t let him rest. Should you need pastoral care, please contact Pastor Rachel, Pastor Allan, Pastor Dave, or Dee at the church office. They will be leading us in worship and covering all pastoral needs in the meantime. Thank you!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

God Bless the Child?

Film Fest #4 is this Saturday night December 19 @ 7pm. It isn't a comedy like the one we watched last time called What Would Jesus Buy? Instead, this one is a drama [bring the Kleenex!!!] about a single mother, Theresa Johnson, who becomes homeless, loses her job and tries to survive with her young daughter Hillary.

I want my children to see this film because it is sure to open their eyes to those less fortunate and give them a better understanding of poverty in America. Come for worship @ 5pm and film @ 7pm followed by discussion. Hot drinks and chips provided.

Stocking Stuffer?

Want one last stocking stuffer sure to please everyone in your family? Purchase and watch together The Nativity Story this Christmas!!! Click the triangular play button below for a preview.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009?

It’s that time of year again to take the Fortune Family Christmas Card Quiz. There's only 10 super easy questions. Enjoy!!!

1) In 2009, where did the Fortune family go on vacation?
A. The White House
B. Your house
C. Sesame Street
D. Disney World

2) What did Lydia [7½ years old] win?
A. The lottery
B. The Scripps National Spelling Bee
C. The Daytona 500
D. Toledo's Pinewood Derby

3) Joshua [10 years old] likes:
A. Geocaching
B. Skateboarding
C. Girls
D. Only A and B [so far]

4) Jackie makes good:
A. Dairy free muffins
B. Friends
C. Police reports [after her car was broken into]
D. All of the above

5) Mike loves:
A. Jackie & the southern California sun
B. His big screen TV
C. Indian food & Golden Grahams
D. All of the above

6) Mike's church gives away:
A. Lemonade
B. Swine Flu
C. Thermal Underwear

D. Both A and C

7) In Toledo, Joshua and Lydia love:
A. The newly re-opened science museum
B. Handel's ice cream
C. Ice skating
D. All of the above

8) If there is time before bedtime and Joshua and Lydia have already finished their homework, done their reading, have no attitude problems, and brought home all the stuff they left with [i.e.—hats, gloves, coats, backpacks, and lunch boxes], for being responsible they're allowed to:
A. Jump on their beds
B. Jump in the leaves again
C. Play on mommy's computer
D. Both B and C

9) Our five year old poodle named Barkley still loves:
A. Licking the window while riding shot gun in the van
B. Chasing squirrels
C. Rolling in deer poo
D. All of the above

10) Some of Mike's fave reads in 2009 include:
A. Silence by Shusaku Endo
B. The Shack by Wm. Paul Young
C. Hurt People Hurt People by Sandra Wilson
D. All of the above

Answers: They're all D!!!

>9 Very Fortunate—Honk if you love peace and quiet.
>7 Fortunate—On the other hand, you have different fingers.
>5 Unfortunate—Half the people you know are below average.
>3 A misfortune—You may be diagonally parked in a parallel universe.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Spend Less Read More?

Did you know three books are cheaper than one video game? Click the pics to see the prices and order before Christmas!!! Here's some I highly recommend:

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. Easily in my top 5 all time. Where I learned that God not only loves me, he actually likes me flaws and all. Gonna be studying it at TF on Wednesdays in the new year.

The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller. Incredible new insights from a very old parable Jesus told in Luke 15. Enjoy!!! And prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

It's Really All About God by Samir Selmanovic. Even if Samir wasn't a pastor friend of mine, I'd be begging people to read and discuss this book together. Recently, his girls posted a vid about about why you shouldn't read this book. Click the triangular play button below to watch it. It's LOL hilarious!!!

Who Will We Help?

As part of our Can Christmas Change the World series at church, I've been asking people to spend less and give more because Christmas is about Christ's birth not yours. To help us remember that, we've invited representatives from three different non-profit organizations in the community to tell us a little bit about their world.

After they finish their spiel, we collect another offering. And then on December 26, we're going to combine all the money and give it to the organization that receives the most votes. You do not have to be a member of TF to participate. So please read up on the organizations below by clicking the links embedded in their names and help us decide who to give the money to by clicking the comment section and typing option #1, #2, or #3. BIG thanks and WTG to all our non-profit friends doing awesome stuff in the community.
  1. Hannah's Socks
  2. Hospice of NW Ohio
  3. Serenity Farm

Miss the Messiah?

In the summer of 1741 George Frideric Handel, at the peak of his musical prowess but depressed and in debt, composed Messiah in just 24 days. Although the work was conceived for the theatre, it has become common practice since Handel's death to perform Messiah during Advent—the preparatory period of the Christmas season. Last week I [along with nearly 1700 people in the Peristyle Theater of the Toledo Museum of Art] stood, just as King George II did when he first heard the movement known as the "The Hallelujah Chorus". The lyrics come from a few texts in New Testament book of Revelation:

Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth [Revelation 19:6].
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever [Revelation 11:15]. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS [Revelation 19:16].

If you missed Messiah at the Peristyle, you can hear it again at Toledo First Church on Sunday December 13 @ 7pm. I'll be there!!! Hope you are too. In the meantime, click the triangular play button below to see the impact Messiah continues to make. Even among teenagers today!!! Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful for PRS?

PRS [not PMS!!! Ha ha ha?] is how you become and stay Christian. You practice the presence of God 24/7 listening twice as much as you talk [prayer].

You read the Bible for a relationship not just research since Jesus Himself said all Scripture points to him [according to John 5:39]. And then, you do what you can to live grace. And
when God opens the door, you share what you've heard back from Him.

That's it. Anybody telling you otherwise is selling you something. Are you thankful for PRS? Click the pic to watch, listen, or read any of the PRS messages in their entirety. Or click the triangular play button below to watch a few LOL ways NOT to share your faith!!!

Why Should We Spend Less This Christmas?

Because Christmas is not your birthday, it's Christ's [though he was probably NOT born DEC 25, we still celebrate his birth during this season]!!! And when Jesus was born, he only got 3 presents [see Matthew 2:11] — most of which a child wouldn't even like! But today, Americans spend $450 billion/year on Christmas. About $900/family. While only $10 billion could solve the entire world's water problem!!! [click triangular play button below to see how!!!]

So this year, I'm challenging my church to spend less and give more presence. In doing so, I'm not suggesting you not give your kids any gifts this Christmas. I'm simply suggesting that as parents, we give them no more than Jesus got! Three! Doing so will teach our kids that you cannot serve God and money. It will free resources to pour into the local church and non-profit organizations that need help. And it will remind us that Christmas and really, being a follower of Christ on every day, is about giving not getting.

If giving three gifts is too radical, perhaps you could:
  • make some of your gifts instead of buying them [generations did it this way!!!]
  • set a budget and commit to a no credit card Christmas
  • consider drawing names instead of giving everyone gifts
  • give one or two less gifts than last year donating the difference
  • read Luke 2:21-39 and ask your family: what emotions did seeing Jesus arouse in Simeon and Anna? Why was Jesus enough for them?
  • read James 5:1-6 and ask your family: what are some specific sins condemned in this passage? What are the consequences of putting trust in wealth or riches?
  • rent and discuss the DVD What Would Jesus Buy? [click triangular play button below for a preview]

Can Music Help Us Pray?

Last time I talked about how Brother Lawrence in his [really] old school book The Practice of the Presence of God taught us that prayer is keeping company with God who is already present. And I promised you a few ways I routinely experience this kind of prayer beyond the meal and outside of church. So here you go. The first way is through nature [see my post on Geocaching for more info]. The second is through providential circumstances [remind me to tell you about those some time!!!]. And a third [of at least six I experience all the time] is music. But not just church music. All music. Which was a huge epiphany to John Bunyan’s church in the 1600s.

Because until the 17th century people had sung only the psalms and paraphrases of Scripture. Hymns introduced secular poetry into the church. And they were convinced that was evil. Even if the poetry overtly talked about God! Apparently, they weren’t aware that the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible writers to add at least 4 pieces of "secular" poetry straight into the Bible. There are probably more, but scholars agree at least these four places in Scripture were based on then well known secular poems or songs. They are John 1:1-18, Philippians 2:6-11, Colossians 1:15-20; and 1 Timothy 3:16.

That's why on my iPod and on my blog, there’s a continually rotating playlist of all kinds of songs that remind me about Jesus. I added some of my Thanksgiving Faves this week. So click the triangular play button to the right and listen for some for some of your own since Psalm 40:3 says God will "Put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD." What songs have helped you practice the presence of God? How has music of any kind helped you speak and hear from God? Ask me about how God used a Bruce Springsteen song to speak to me!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who Loves Autumn?

I do! It's my fave season. Here's a few things we've been doing lately. The kids LOVED the hayride and bonfire a few weeks ago. Josh even got to drive the GINORMOUS John Deere tractor. We picked pumpkins in a field and took them home to carve. The kids dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood and Bumblebee the Transformer. Marty took me to a Monday night football game in Maryland. Too bad the Redskins got crushed! Our church hosted a bell choir concert with 1k bells! A film crew from a Japanese TV station filmed life in America from one of our church member's point of view including part of church last week. Barkley had anethesia to get his tiny sharp teeth cleaned. And Jackie and I went on a spiritual advance [a.k.a retreat] to a very quiet place with rowdy nuns and geese.

Still coming is Pinewood Derby NOV 14, Film Fest #4 NOV 21 in addition to a recap from the West Virginia mission trip, Little Minnow Awards, and another wedding NOV 21!!! What have you been doing? Who else STILL loves autumn?

A Spiritual Advance?

Some stores celebrate Christmas in July; this year we’re going to celebrate Easter in December. The winter season is ripe with imagery of death and rebirth—the journey from Friday’s crucifixion toward Sunday’s resurrection. And YOU are invited to experience this spiritual advance with me!!! [Editorial note: a "spiritual advance" is similar to a spiritual retreat, but I like this term better cause it implies going forward not backward with God!!!]

For guests there is no leading, just absorbing and eating and learning and enjoying!!! Meaningful hands-on children's programming will be available simultaneously by students from Andrews University so the entire family can be empowered to reach out in service that is loving, passionate, and eternal [click pic to register online or click here to download the brochure].

The cost for this advance is free, but we are looking for fifty people to donate $20 to help defray food and center rental costs. Please RSVP by December 1 to Dee Caulder at the Toledo First Adventist Church office: 419-882-6200 or email her at If you would like more information or if you are able to make a donation, please contact Pastor Rachel Davies at 419-320-3516. You do NOT need to be a member of Toledo First to participate.

Would God Have Us?

Over three hundred years ago, an uneducated cook in a French monastery known as Brother Lawrence discovered how to enjoy a profound awareness of God moment by moment, even in the midst of busyness and distraction. A little book called “The Practice of the Presence of God” compiled from his letters has been translated into English and become a classic on the devotional life permanently warping [in a good way!!!] my understanding of prayer. I used to think prayer was about making lists and asking for stuff. For myself and for other people. And certainly, that is an appropriate use of prayer. Or Jesus would have never encouraged us to "ask and you shall receive." But prayer cannot be limited to lists because prayer is about listening twice as much we talk! It's about the inevitable relationship that grows when we keep company with God. Not just at church or before meals, but during every waking moment of our lives. Listen to Brother Lawrence explain why:

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God: those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive; it is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; but let us do it from a principle of love, and because God would have us.

Aren't you glad loves us like crazy and "would have us"! How did I not know when done unto God, that ALL work is sacred? How have I missed that every moment is prayer!!! Stay tuned next time for a few ways I've experieced God in prayer beyond the meal and outside of church!!! Click pic to purchase this [really] old-school stocking stuffer!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why Don't You Unplug Too?

According to Dr. Monica Reed in her book Creation Health, your heart will beat 2.5 billion times and will pump more than 1 million barrels of blood throughout your body. It is important to note that between each powerful beat of your heart, it rests. This resting period allows the heart to “unplug” or “reload” to do the work of the next beat.

Likewise, you and I need to “unplug” or “reload.” We need rest. Science, however, wasn’t the first to discover the need for a cycle of rest. In fact, rest is part of the plan that our Creator gave to us at the very beginning. The book of Genesis tells how God provided for this rest. After creating every living thing including man and woman, Genesis 1:31 says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Then Genesis 2:1-2 adds these words, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”

Was God tired? No! He was setting an example for us! He was building a rhythm of rest into our weekly cycle. Why? Because God knew we would need it! Families are falling apart. People are working too much for too long. Even care providers and health care workers who know our bodies need to rest are guilty of over working themselves. That’s a few reasons why once a week on Saturdays, my family unplugs for 24 hours. Literally. We turn the cell phones off and unplug the TV. We worship. We laugh. We play. We rest. Why don’t you unplug too?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Did God Stop Speaking?

God didn’t stop speaking. We stopped listening. So start listening. Prayer is not primarily about lists and requests. It's about keeping company with God. Last week, Jackie and the kids [with a friend] and I did this by going Geocaching. Have you guys ever heard of that? I hadn’t until last week. But Jackie had. And we all really enjoyed it. Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences with each other and if you want online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment [click pics for more info]. There are 927,257 active geocaches around the world and after typing some coordinates in our GPS, we found two more hidden at Wildwood Metro Park. We found a fox den, lots of leaves, and had a couple hours of fun. With eachother and with God PTL!!!

Can Christmas Change the World?

Rick McKinley, Chris Seay, and Greg Holder are right. In their book Advent Conspiracy [click pic for more info] they say, "Many American Christians have decided they can, to put it bluntly, love both God and money." Proof of this can be seen every Christmas. When we spend $450 billion/year each year. That's about $900/family. But what would happen if Christians proactively decided to spend less and give more presence this year? We could start by giving our children or grandchildren no more than three presents. Total. Since that's how many Jesus received at his birth. Or if that's too radical, consider drawing names or giving one less gift than last year. The time and money we save could be poured into local non-profit organizations like Haven of Hope or Serenity Farm.

Talking about giving, CS Lewis said it this way: "I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them" [Mere Christianity, p.86].

Christmas changed the world the day Jesus was born in a cold, dark stable; Christmas can change the world again!!! Please come learn how starting November 21 @ 7pm for Film Fest where we'll be watching and discussing "What Would Jesus Buy?" This hilarious but thought provoking look at Christmas will jump start our new "Can Christmas Change the World" series starting on November 28.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mini Mike and Jackie?

It was picture day at school this week. Lydia is in 2nd grade. Joshua is in 4th grade this year. Any grammas or grampas wanna order a pic of [not so] mini Mike or Jackie?

Film Fest #3?

The 3rd offering in our Fall Film Fest powerfully illustrates how hard it is for many to receive grace, but how we can!!! Come for worship this Saturday night, October 17 2009, @ 5pm and the film @ 7pm which includes free snacks, hot drinks, and simultaneous children's videos in another room. Bring a friend to talk about these questions for reflection:
  • How does this film portray the power of redemption as described in Galatians 3:10–14 and 1 Peter 1:13–21?
  • What role does justice play in this story [cf.Deuteronomy 6:1–9]?
  • How does grace make a difference [cf.Ephesians 2:1–10; Romans 6:23; Romans 5:8]?
  • Which character struggled the most to receive grace? Why?

Father Forgive Them?

Old people are awesome. They’re not afraid of dying and they stopped caring what people think of them years ago like the grandma in this video clip. How many of you would be willing to forgive and pray for somebody robbing you? I’m not sure I would! Imagine the impact that a unified body of believers could make, regardless of age, if all of us actually prayed with unbelievers. Click the pic above for more details on how the Holy Spirit can help us navigate our lives and the triangular play button below to watch the video. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Is Ecstasy Fueled By Doing?

For many Christians, intentions and purity of heart rather than “doing religion” have been considered the truest expression of religious experience. But it is interesting to hear the Bible speak of the ecstasy of religious experience, not only in terms of our passionate feelings we find described in the Bible’s Song of Songs, but also in terms of doing. In Exodus 24:7, Moses records the devotion of God’s people expressing their path to knowing God: “We shall do, then we shall understand.” [my paraphrase].

In his psalms, David calls the law of God “most precious gold” and “sweet like honey, like honey from the comb,” comparing it to the most valuable element known to humankind and the best sweetener of life known to people of his time [see Psalm 19]. A number of times people came to Jesus seeking to find understanding, devotion and relationship with God—inner aspects of faith—and Jesus would say over and over again, “Go and do...”

So why were Job, Moses, David and Jesus, along with the apostles Paul, John and James, so in love with doing? Because law—or right actions—is the way love works. And love is the way the universe is structured. It is doing laundry, cleaning the house, washing dishes, and squeezing that tube of toothpaste the “right” way that lead us to experiences of greater intimacy. And it's the same way with God. Ecstasy is fueled by doing. You disagree?

Adapted from "The Ecstasy of Doing" by Samir Selmanovic. Click pic to read post in its entirety.

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers?

If you don’t understand anybody else, can you have a real conversation with them? Dan Merchant says you can't. That's why the Emmy-award-winning filmmaker donned a white jumpsuit plastered with religious and anti-religious bumper stickers all over it, and traveled across America, interviewing prominent and not-so-prominent Americans about Christianity. The result is a very entertaining yet extremely thought provoking documentary entitled Lord, Save Us From Your Followers [click pic for more info]. Click the triangular play button below to sneak a preview.

A Torrent of Change?

According to Wikepedia, Gilbert Keith Chesterton [29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936] was one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century. He is well known for his reasoned apologetics and even those who disagree with him have recognized the universal appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Listen to his take on conservatism in the church:

"Conservatism is based on the idea that if you leave things alone, you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone, you leave it to a torrent of changes. If you leave a white post alone, it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white, you must be always painting it again. Briefly, if you want the old white post, you must have a new white post."

I was reminded of that quote when I saw this vid recently describing the incredible torrent of change surrounding all of us. Perhaps you can use this quote or vid to suggest to someone else that whether you're Christian or not, change is not an option. The question is not if, but how. And when.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shouldn't Prayer Have Options?

Questions don’t disappear after we become Christian. Often they multiply. So when they do, isn’t it encouraging to know that our prayer options also multiply?

Here are six ways we're experimenting with and expanding our participation with prayer at Toledo First on Wednesdays from 10am to 9pm. Just follow the directions at each prayer activity table.
  1. Forgiveness: Write something you want to bring to God on a piece of paper with a felt pen and put it in a bowl of water. Watch it wash away.
  2. Scripture Prayer: Meditate on a written and provided Biblical passage and pray it into your life.
  3. Adoration: Contemplate how God has revealed himself through various provided props and staged objects. Adore his revelation.
  4. Write a Prayer: Select and recopy a written prayer from the handful provided that expresses your heart [or write your own]. Carry it with you throughout the day, put it on you dashboard, mirror, etc.
  5. God Speaks to You: Ask God if there's anything he wants to say to you. Begin, on paper, with your name, [i.e. Dear Mike, ...] and then write whatever comes to your mind, as if God were writing to you. Henri Nouwn published a book of these types of prayers, too, emphasizing that prayer is a dialogue and not just a monologue.
  6. Bring it to Jesus: Write or draw something that represents a personal concern, burden, or intercession. Place it in the provided heart-shaped bowl, representing the heart of Jesus.
Here's the fine print:
  • You do not have to be a member of Toledo First to participate.
  • You don't have to bring anything with you.
  • You don’t have to be an accomplished "pray-er" to participate.
  • You don’t have to pray out loud.
  • You don’t even need to know what to pray for because Romans 8:26 reminds us “The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Outreach In The Airport?

By some definitions, Chester Cook has the largest church in the country. As the full-time chaplain of Atlanta's international airport, his flock includes a quarter of a million travelers who pass through each day. But it's not just distressed travelers he [and 40 other chaplains] serves, there are also tens of thousands of flight attendants, baggage handlers, cashiers and soldiers coming and going from tours of duty overseas. Wouldn't it be cool if every Christian took on the role of airport chaplain when we travel?

You have GOT to read this article about a guy who treats the airport as his very special mission field. Click the pic to read the article "He'll Help You Find Your Flight, And God" in it's entirety. Photo and article courtesy: Barbara Bradley Hagerty/NPR.

Cash For Tech?

Did you know you can trade-in your used cellphones, laptops, digital cameras, camcorders, mp3 players, video games and systems, GPS devices and all kinds of other electronics and receive Costco cash gift cards in return? PC Magazine voted Gazelle's electronics trade-in website one of the top websites in 2008 for its innovative solution to recycling. How does it work?

1. Click pic to visit the trade-in website.
2. Find the value of the items you would like to trade-in.
3. Ship the items to Gazelle for free.
4. Once your items are evaluated, receive a Costco Cash Card within 10 days.

Gazelle does not yet accept faxes, printers, and TVs but is committed to providing an easy, fast, and safe way for consumers to get rewarded for responsibly recycling more than 15 other kinds of electronics. For items with hard drives, Gazelle utilizes Department of Defense approved software to erase personal data and reset items to factory settings. Want some cash for all that tech?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Does Inreach Affect Outreach?

We at Toledo First believe inreach affects outreach. We spent a week this summer fasting and praying about it [BIG thanks and WTG to those of you who joined us!!!]. In preparation for sharing in church last week what we heard God saying through His word, quiet time, and your responses [click pic to read in its entirety] , Pastor Rachel and I were pleasantly surprised to find other organizations have come to the same conclusion. Such as Texas Roadhouse. Much to the chagrin of financial experts. Click the triangular play button below [scroll WAY below if you're browsing with FireFox] to see what I mean!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Prayer and Simplicity?

The 2nd film in our Fall Film Fest emphasizes the virtues of prayer and simplicity as reflected in the life of Francis of Assisi. Come for worship @ 5pm and the film @ 7pm which includes free snacks, hot drinks, and simultaneous children's videos in another room. Bring a friend to talk about these questions for reflection:
  1. Francis often quotes the words of Jesus, especially passages about wealth and sacrifice (Matthew 6:19-21,24-33 ; Matthew 19:29 ). What other Scriptures are cited in the film?
  2. How does prayer and a life of simplicity apply in Francis' life? How does it apply in yours?
  3. Giocondo fears he won't be able to keep the vow of chastity, saying repeatedly, "God forgive me, a miserable sinner," adding that he'd "gladly face eternal damnation for one moment of love." How would you have responded? How does Francis respond?
  4. Various characters have a change of heart toward Francis, including several of his companions and two of the churchmen he comes in contact with. Are these "conversions" convincing?
Click the pic above for a more thorough review and the triangular play button below for a preview clip.

Can Tragedy Confront Eternity?

Wm. Paul Young believes tragedy can help people confront eternity. And judging by the millions of copies of his book The Shack has sold, others do too. They have been touched by Young's compassionate God [that obviously loves us like crazy!!!] in the face of great evil.

But when I listen to Christian radio, it seems there are just as many people who vehemently disagree with Young. Not about tragedy confronting eternity. But about the nature of God the kind of eternity he has in mind. Which means it's going to be a great book to discuss this fall. Driving us to Scripture and challenging us to speak truth in love about what we find there or anywhere — including a wildly popular novel.

The discussion begins September 16 @ 6:30pm and continues on Wednesdays this fall. A weekly study guide will be available discussing questions including: Where Is God in Senseless, Innocent Suffering?; Is God Really a Family of Three?; Is God in Charge But Not in Control?; What’s Wrong with the World and Us? Does God Forgive Everyone Unconditionally? Simultaneous children and youth programming too. Invite a friend!!! Everyone is welcome!!!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

No Soup for You?

At Toledo First, we enjoy ordinary outreach. But some of us are learning [the hard way] that unless we cultivate and fuel our appetites for ordinary inreach as well, we may burn out, not be entrusted by God with even bigger outreach endeavors, or even worse, lose our first love [cf. Revelation 2:4].

SO to avoid all of those those precarious situations, our fall midweek series starting September 16 will be focusing on spiritual formation for all ages. There are classes for Adventurers [children in grades 1-4], Pathfinders [children in grades 5-8], YO [Youth Operate serves grades 9+], and adults all meeting simultaneously preceded by supper, puppet shows, and worship.

Please bring a can/person of soup [red or white base] to share the following week. And feel free to enjoy the quietness of the very special prayers activities Pastor Rachel is setting up throughout the sanctuary every Wednesday starting @ 10am. Mmm Mmm God!!! [If you don't participate, there will be "No soup for you!!!" or Seinfeld LOL]

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Who'll Stop the Rain?

Creedence Clearwater Revival aren't the only ones wondering. Many of our sponsors and volunteers who made the Kidz Crazy Car Show a success this year anyway were asking the same thing!!! Though rain fell until nearly 7pm when we gave away the trophies, a steady of stream of guests [some we first met in the park giving away Lemonade!!!] enjoyed Cookie the Clown, watching the movies on the big screen, munching in the food court and splashing in the puddles. Which reminded me of this vid of Toto's Africa by Perpetuum Jazzile. Enjoy!!!

What If It's Really All About God?

My pastor friend Samir wrote this new book recently. I love the title don't you?!! The subtitle is just as intriguing don't you think? I already ordered my copy from Barnes and Noble. Maybe you should too [shameless plug — click pic for more info]. WTG Samir!!! Wouldn't this book be great for a men's study group, small group, or ongoing lunch hour discussion?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Family Fun for Labor Day?

On Monday, September 7, 2009 from 4-7 pm, the parking lot will be full of guests and friends looking at some really cool cars big and small [Kidz, don't forget to bring your fave Matchbox or HotWheels car to enter into the Kidz portion of the show].

In addition to People's Choice, Kidz Choice, and Principal's Pick, there will be 12 more categories of trophies this year along with drawings at the top and bottom of every hour. Volunteers still needed to set up [noon], work the food court, and tear down [7pm].

General admission and some food is free [courtesy Aladdins]. All donations and proceeds go to support the gym building project for Toledo Junior Academy and James Meade Learning Center. Click pic to pre-register online, download a flyer, or read up on our proud sponsors!!!