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!!!