News

Barb Andrews

   The “Neighborhood Knock” was an opportunity for our church to connect with our neighbors and invite folks to come celebrate Christmas Eve with us at FPC! Alongside my grandson Elliot Fortmeyer and the Goodale family, I set off around the Lowell neighborhood on the Friday before Christmas to give out lovely invitations to the FPC Christmas Eve service. We had some wonderful conversations and spread the season’s cheer with whomever we met!

   It was a blessing for us to get acquainted with some of the folks that live around our church. I learned a little bit about the geography of the area but the most valuable part of the afternoon was meeting some very nice people. Along our route we met CC, whose 106 year old house was restored for “free” by the group of Christians helping to revitalize the Lowell area (with FUND). She spoke of her friendship with Randy & Tina White (FPC members) and her work to bring a sense of community to her neighborhood. We were invited into her home by her son and got to see his amazing artwork! He is a cake decorator by trade but has expanded his talent to include painting old windows taken out of these old homes. We left with a plate of cookies and an invitation to return. This was just one of our experiences that I wanted to share, but we were blessed by the whole experience.

   It was an interesting experience for someone like me who is new to FPC and an opportunity for my 13 year old grandson to meet our church’s neighbors.

Anonymous

As we move into 2018, we take a look back to celebrate all that God has been doing in and through our congregation. We hope you'll take the time to read the reports from each ministry. Read or download the pdfs below or pick up a printed copies in our Sanctuary Entry. There is lots to celebrate! 

If you don't see links to the pdfs below, open the article by clicking on the title. 

Audrey Arce

Dear First Pres,

I was so encouraged on Sunday when so many of you raised your hands during the sermon in commitment to pray this week for God to stir up our spirits. Haggai had given the message from God to the people of Jerusalem. It was time for them to start focusing their attention on the Lord's House, the Temple. And then, Haggai (1:14) writes that God stirred up the spirits of Zerubbabel, Joshua, and all the people. God stirred up their spirits into active obedience. 
   Ultimately, that's what we need. We need God to stir us up in our spirits with His Spirit through the Gospel. So that is what we're praying for this week. If you missed Sunday, please listen to the sermon online, and please join us in praying for God to stir us up as a church.
   One of the ways I'm praying for God to stir us up is that He would stir us up in love. Revelation talks about special letters that John was to send to the churches. The message from God to the church in Ephesus (found in Revelation 2:1-7) recognized their hard work, but called them back to love. John writes: "the love you had at first." Can you imagine if every member of our church was passionately loving the Lord? What would our gatherings look like? What would our impact in everyday life look like? We talk a lot about moving outward with the Gospel at FPC, but if we do that without love it won't be effective. We gather every Sunday for worship together, but if we do that without love it won't be the kind of worship God desires. We need love. 
   Certainly, God deserves our love. He first loved us by sending the One and only Son to die for us, even while we were still sinning. What a good and loving God He is. So, as you pray for God to stir up our spirits this week, please join me in praying for God to stir us up in love.

Blessings,

P.S. I'm looking forward to FPC hosting the Community Wide worship & prayer gathering this Sunday evening, 5-6. Won't you join us? 

Jeremy Vaccaro
Senior Pastor

Dear First Pres,

   Did you notice that we didn't celebrate the Lord's Supper on Sunday? It felt a little weird not to do it on the first Sunday of the month like we normally do. We decided, instead of Communion on Sunday, to remember and give thanks for our baptisms and the incredible faithfulness of God that is represented in baptism. It was an opportunity to start 2018 with gratitude for what God has done for us and commitment to walk in step with His Spirit. It's one of my favorite Sundays of the year. But rest assured, this Sunday, we will gather again at the Lord's Table to remember, receive, and give thanks for the incredible mercy of God in Christ. I hope to see you there.
 
   We also started a new sermon series this week form the book of Haggai called "It's Time." Twice in the opening section, Haggai says, "Give careful thought to your ways." Have you done that this week? Have you taken some time to think about your life and what it is that you are pursuing? What about this year ahead? What's most important for you in 2018? How do those important things fit under your call to live your life fully surrendered to Jesus? Sometimes we go through the day to day nature of our lives without much reflection, but God's Word instructs us otherwise. I pray that you will take some time this week, asking the Holy Spirit to help you, to consider your ways like God instructed the people through Haggai.
 
   Finally, today is day 4 of the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Dozens of churches in our city are participating together to intentionally seek God's face for unity, rain, and repentance. So, are you fasting and praying? On Tuesday night I had the privilege of joining the evening service hosted by Breaking Free Revival Center. What a joy it was to worship and pray with believers from all over our city for God's unity in His church. Every day of the fast, one church is hosting a one-hour praise and prayer service for the community. You can find the info about the host churches on our website or at the bottom of the daily emails we are sending. I encourage you to find a way to join in with at least one of these services. I think you will be very blessed.
 

Blessings,

Jeremy Vaccaro
Senior Pastor

Dear First Pres,

   On Sunday, New Year's Eve, I finished my One Year Bible. Yes, I had to read through ten days of readings to finish before the end of the year, but that's beside the point. Once again, something I've probably done about six times since I starting reading the Bible in 8th grade, I purposely read through the whole of the Bible. Have you ever done that? I don't do it every year because I find that I can get more focused on finishing the text rather than listening to the text. But, every once in a while, I find it incredibly valuable to read through the whole Bible with an intentional reading plan. The first time I did it, I followed the reading plan in the back of my Student Bible. It took me about three years to get from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. And if you stop by my office sometime, I can show you the way I proudly marked off the boxes of the reading plan (I still have that Bible). Every time I read through the whole of Scripture I gain a deeper appreciation for the overarching narrative of God's incredible faithfulness, grace, and love to pursue salvation for His creation.
 
   How was your devotional life in 2017? Did you regularly and intentionally spend time reflecting on the powerful words of Scripture?
 
   There was a study done by the leaders of Willow Creek Community Church, a large church outside of Chicago, in an effort to understand the spiritual health of the congregation. One of the outcomes of the study was evidence for something that most of us already know: reflecting frequently on Scripture is one of the most powerful ways to catalyze spiritual growth. It's one of the easiest ways to grow closer to the Lord. It requires very little risk, but the rewards are rich.
 
   So, have you made a plan for 2018? How will you invest in your relationship with the Lord this year? What will your devotional habits be? Remember, doing devotionals every morning doesn't make the Lord love us more. We don't do it to get on His good side. We don't do it to earn points. We do it in response to His incredible love for us. We do it in loving obedience to Jesus' command to "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). We do it because as His disciples we are seeking, in 2018, to increasingly submit all of our lives to the empowering presence and Lordship of Jesus. I pray that every one of us will develop the spiritual discipline of reflecting on Scripture this year. And that we will not only be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word as well.

Blessings,

P.S. One way to help you get started is to plan to participate in the citywide 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Dozens of churches in Fresno and Clovis are banding together in this season to seek the Lord's face for our Valley. I encourage you to find a way to participate. The fast starts on January 8, Monday.

Jeremy Vaccaro
Senior Pastor

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