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It’s Friday!

It’s Friday! It appears that we are headed for another very warm June day! The TOGO Team arrived home last night and from all accounts God was amazing as they had the opportunity to serve and serve and serve. Along the way they made some good friends and learned some good things about God, themselves, and God’s Kingdom. I want to thank the whole team, (Chris, Derrick, Justin, Fred, Jim, Connor, Kiley, the Soriano’s, the Lowery’s, and Clancy) for making the time to go, I want to thank Chris for leading, and I want to thank all of those who supported the trip with both resources and prayer! I want to thank many of you who have a heart for taking the Good News to others by going out and serving.

Talking about serving it has been so cool to see so many of you serving the body! This past week we had Rene Craig and Ty Bollman come by and volunteer to wash and clean the vans here at church! Last Sunday afternoon I went home after the children’s musical and thought about the tremendous involvement it took not only from the kids but the adults who served the entire week! People like Angie, Lauren, Jackie, Holly, Matt, Laurel, Dylan, Heather, Marisa, and the many moms and grandma’s that helped out along the way. This week I was reminded of Ron Swinehart and the time he puts in here! You and I are surrounded by many people here at Fairview who serve with JOY.  You see it in what they do and how they talk and the way they treat people.

I want to encourage all of you to pray for Dylan Jones! He is on his way to Louisville Kentucky to be involved in a robotic competition and will have many opportunities to share his faith. Pray also for the 50 plus people who are heading out for High School Conference early this coming Sunday morning. Pray that God will speak to each one involved as they drive, as they experience the week of camp, and then drive home. The whole week is one large opportunity to take steps towards Christ! Pray for Gail Scribner, Rhonda McCormick, Fred Feathers, Claire Shores and Dale DeCrescenzo as they all recover from illness, surgeries, injuries, and battling cancer.

The messages from James have been practical and have challenged all of us to go to God and make sure that our day to day and moment to moment thoughts, words, and actions are lining up with what we believe. This Sunday we have the privilege to hear from Justin Bass and Chris Huelat and next Sunday the 25th of June we will hear from Devin Chance! We are surrounded by good teachers who love God’s Word!

Starting in July we will start a 6-week series entitled: ‘KNOWING WHERE YOU ARE GOING!’ I am excited as we talk about Heaven! What it takes to get there, what are we to do while we are waiting to get there, what will it be like when we get there, and who will be there to meet us when we get there. Heaven! I can wait!

There are so many people to thank for the ministry you have here in the body of Christ! I want to mention a few. The Spears, Powers, Sailors, Craig’s, and Jones you 4 couples made me laugh out loud and I count it a real privilege to have spent time with you.

Minette and I are getting together with our Home Group this week and we are excited! We meet only 2-3 times in the summer but it is so healthy and fun to get together! If you’re doing that awesome! If you’re wanting the opportunity let us know! If your not involved in a Home Group start praying now as they will start with the FALL. Pray about not only about being involved but maybe hosting one at your home. That way more and more people can benefit from this great time in the body of Christ.

Two things to think about!

In the FALL we will kick of the season with a great focus using Bob Goff’s book: LOVE DOES!
We have so many students coming here that we are starting a new ministry that Ryan Milliken is leading. It will work with 5th thru 8th grades. We need those with a heart for serving and a heart for that age group to consider jumping in and getting involve.

 Always Giving Thanks

Tony

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EVERY MUNDANE MOMENT IS MUNDANE NO MORE!

It’s been an amazing week of life and ministry here at Fairview Christian Church. There are so many reasons why and my goal is to share with you some of those today.

Our team of Chris, Justin, Derrick, Jim, Fred, Conner, Kiley, the Soriano’s, the Lowery’s and Clancy are over in Togo serving alongside Eric and Melissa Miller. From the things we have heard the team has been a blessing to many and they are learning each and everyday.

A huge thank you goes to Ryan Milliken, Joe Seaton, Tara Thomas, Ginny Andrews, Hayley Harbaugh, Hudson Allmoslecher, Andi Morris and Ethan Thomas as they serve out at Cyokamo Christian Camp with our Jr. High Week of Camp. It sounds like God has been moving and the students are learning some great things about God’s Kingdom.

The building here has been filled with great activity! There have been 60 plus kids and many adults, Angie, Heather, Lauren, Marisa, Jennifer, Holly, Jackie, Aubrie, and Laurel serving in our Annual Music Camp add to this the many moms who are helping with the extra activities and you can see how amazing it has been! This next Sunday they will present their musical and I know we will all be inspired as we watch the kids teach us through song and drama.

We have had the opportunity to celebrate with Sean and Ashley Harmon as they welcomed little Isla Wren into the world.

I walked in this morning to hear two incredible brothers praying over the many people and their circumstances here at the church. Thank you Bob and Chad!

I am hearing some great stories from people like Gail Sims and Byron and Kathy Keeper, and Chris, Claire, and Shelby Shores along with others where God is coming along side and giving encouragement and strength.

Do you know what the cool part about all of this is? Life is still hard and filled with some difficult situations!  That’s right. There are still many people and families that are facing tough things in life, however I am so inspired because they are intentionally choosing to practice James 1:2

‘Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

They are choosing to see their circumstances as opportunities for great joy. I met a young man this week named Landon. He is from Lamar and he because of some special abilities really struggles to walk. He wears braces and it is a real chore for him to navigate the terrain. You know what though? This young man has chosen to be filled with joy! He is a joy to be around and he seems to be focused on always lifting others up.

I absolutely love the scripture that follows in James 1:3

‘For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow…’

What a truth for us to hold on to! Every trouble we face in an opportunity for growth! That is why we can be filled with Joy. I heard one coach say it like this: ‘Every set back is set up to grow!’ Did you hear that? Every set back, each and every one is actually a set up for you and I to grow! I love that because it changes the way we look at life and the way we live life!

So today as you begin to walk and live and interact do it know that it is filled with one opportunity after another to grow!

When we look at and live life like this each moment is infused with a huge dose of opportunity! Don’t miss out!

Learning to pray with my eyes wide open!

Tony

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Tribute to the Ambassadors

Tribute:  An act, statement or gift that is intended to show gratitude, respect and admiration.

Ambassador:   A person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specific activity, person or Kingdom.

What more can be said about a generation that has been called “The Greatest”?  I can only add that they should be honored and respected for their leadership, perseverance and endurance that resulted in a steadfast faith, wholesome families and the contribution to the welfare of the church and community.  We appreciate them because of the legacy the leave for us.  They set the example of hard work and a job well done.  But most of all they taught us what it looks like to walk with Jesus through a lifetime of experiences.

It has been my privilege to have been the teacher of the Ambassadors Sunday School Class for the last twenty years. Although twenty years sounds like a long time it is just a short span of time of the sixty-four years the class has been meeting and fellowshipping together.  The class started in 1952 at the Budlong Christian Church.  They called themselves the “Young Adults Class”.  Oh, it seems so long ago.  There have been five teachers over the years.  They were Edsel Dale, Clearance Chapman, Jim Curd, Purdy Colaw and myself.  Sometime in the 1970’s, Jim Curd re-named the class to “The Ambassadors”.  The original class (to my best knowledge) was the Bowers, Keepers,, Colaws, Chapmans, McCinurks and Swarans.  There are two of the original member still involved, Alice Bowers and Reba Keeper. Several of the men served as elders. They were Carl Bowers, Jim Still, Purdy Colaw, Clearance Chapman, Bill Fisher, Henry Peters and Buck Keeper.  What an act to follow.  I apologize if I left any one out that should have been recognized.  I have made the most of the resources available to me. 

Because of the age of the class, the past twenty years has made me realize the reality of our finite time here on earth.  We have lost the fellowship and company of so many.  The members we have lost in just the past twenty years is about twenty-eight.  Those who are unable to attend because of health or other confining reasons are another twenty souls.  The class has seen more than two hundred and fifty member at one time or another.  Can you imagine the influence and impact they have had on family members, neighbors and work associates.  They truly were Ambassadors.

We had some fun when I asked them, “What the most enjoyable times they had together?”  It seems if there was a bon fire and weenies involved they were willing and ready for an outing.  Whether it was out at Al and Bonnie Hayter’s house in October for a roast, or at Jerry and Carolyn Meyers backyard retreat for a picnic in the summer and fall, they were ready.  Other enjoyable times were spent at the Cayton’s annual Christmas brunch, trips to Lambeth’s Restaurant in Springfield, going to Cookson Hills Children’s home in Kansas, Oklahoma, the Buchanan’s fish fry, ice cream socials, Young at Heart and of course going out for breakfast together after church service.  They truly enjoyed being in the company of each other.  Some friendships were life long, others were much shorter. It didn’t matter.  They would make you welcome no matter who you were or where you came from.  The hand of friendship and fellowship was always extended.  They were a community within a community.

I then asked them, “What was the most difficult thing they faced?”  Of course many of them have lost spouses which is very difficult.  Some had lost a child which seems so unnatural.  We are prepared to see the end of our own lives and possibly the life of our spouse.  But a child?  That’s even more difficult.  As a group, the consensus was the transition from the “Old Fairview” to the “New Fairview”.  As I am getting older I am beginning to empathize with them about change.  Some in our fellowship rejected the move and went elsewhere.  But the Ambassadors persevered.  The affirmation for them, that it was indeed God’s direction, was the night we had a prayer vigil at our “new” church.  A table cloth caught fire from a candle that had burned down to the base.  There was a bible setting on the table.  It was opened to II Chronicles 7:1-4 which read “Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house.  The priests could not enter into the house of the Lord because of the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house.  All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the Lord upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground and they worshiped and gave praise to the Lord, saying, ‘Truly He is good, truly His loving kindness is everlasting.’”  The table cloth was completely consumed, but only the edges of the bible were scorched. For them, and many others in our congregation, it was a sign that God was going to use this building in ways we could not imagine.  It has certainly come to pass.

Like most other Sunday school classes, the Ambassadors directed their class offerings to specific ministries.  The first and second Sunday’s were for “Life Choices”.  The third and fourth Sunday’s were for “Cookson Hills Children’s Home”.  On the fifth Sundays there would be a special offering for the Shores in Thailand, Kristen Hicks in Guatemala and “Ozark Crisis Response”.  Many of the members were involved in church type ministries such as communion preparation, communion meditations, childrens ministry, teaching Sunday school class, helping with vacation bible school, harvest party and feeding Ozark Christian College students in their homes.  All of them participated in providing food, water and praying for the victims, families and friends of those in the Joplin tornado.   Jim and Flo Still led “Childrens Church” for fifteen years.  Most all the women were involved in Funeral dinner preparation and serving.  Flo Still, Betty Farrington and Betty White were, and two still are, involved in quilting blankets for Cookson Hills. 

Their work and ministry were not confined to just church activities.  Carl Bowers was instrumental in establishing the “Carthage Crisis Center”.  He and Alice’s tireless work there is one reason of its success.  Betty Farrington, Reba Keeper, Midge McGrew and Leoti Ball have volunteered at “Crosslines” for the last twenty years.  Reba, Alice and Midge have volunteered as receptionist for counseling in the front office.  Jim Still and Carl Bowers kept our church building, vans and apartments in good repair.  Floyd Youngblood took a pickup load of apples to Cookson Hills every year for the last sixty years. Probably most of you didn’t know this about them.  That is just who they are, unassuming, without fan fare.  Their attitude was to roll up their sleeves and do what needs to be done. 

I asked them, “What is the most significant thing they had learned and how it changed their lives?”  “Go to church and take your kids.”  “Jesus is the only way to God.”  “Jesus is the way, the truth and life.”  “Be the same outside the church as you are in the church.”  “God said “Let it be”.  Many are able to see things at a deeper level.  “Coming to a realization that Jesus is God.”  “Learning there is so much you don’t understand and so much more you need to learn.”  “Be an example where ever you are.”  “Discovering how many times you can read the same scripture and God show’s you something different each time.”  They all have appreciated the strong community of the class.

When it comes to having surgery or being in the hospital, it is like a secret society.  You don’t know that they have been in until they’re out.  When I asked them why, they responded that they knew the ministers or I were busy and didn’t want to bother us. It’s just their generation.  They grew up not wanting to take hand outs and not be a burden.  Wow, what we can learn from that.  It does have its draw backs though.  We need each other.  We need community.  Sometimes it was very hard to do something for them.  So, one Sunday I taught a lesson that had to do with blessings.  The main point was that when we refuse a blessing from someone, we are denying a blessing from God for that person.  It really helped in allowing some people to do some good things for them.

Even though they could not answer the question, “What is the most significant thing the Ambassador class has done?”  I’m sure you all would agree with me.  They didn’t claim to do a big project or program that they had organized, but that it was more of how they would all come together and help somebody if there was a need.  They would take on the jobs and responsibilities that were not always the easiest or got much attention. 

The greatest thing I think they have done is showing us what humbleness of service through action and purpose in life really looks like.  Their love and devotion to family, friends, the body of Christ and utmost to Christ himself shows in their desire to finish the race well here on earth, and to look forward to their eternal destiny.  Their lives were and continue to be full of compassion and generosity.  They have been the teacher, and Mary and I have been the student.  We have learned so much from them.

I want to close this “Tribute to the Ambassador’s” with a Christmas poem my wife, Mary, wrote for our family several years ago.  It goes to the heart of who the Ambassadors were.  I not only think it is appropriate for our earthly families but also our eternal family as well. 

God Bless.

 

A LIVING FABRIC

The fabric of a family made up of living threads

Connected to each other in commitment and strong stead

Each one a life connection that keeps the fabric strong

With love and gentle caring on this life’s road sometimes long

The laughter and the heartfelt tears, the triumphs and the losses

The chance to be a steadfast thread that supports each one it crosses

Oh marvel at its beauty rare, the colors of each strand

The careful, divine weaving by the Master’s skillful hand

The days so quick and fleeting pass, the sands of time go swift

The treasure of each memory shared, a precious, blessed gift

Thank God that there is family, each cherished thread to love

Interwoven sweet communion through life’s journey and Heaven above

Chad and Mary Cayton

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The Rest of Us

How did it happen? Why did he do it? Couldn't she tell the difference? Had they just chosen the opposite way, everything would have turned out so different. So, when I read that God "walked" with Adam in the Garden, I get a little frustrated that we (I) don't get to do that now! ADAM! You messed this up for THE REST OF US! 
This life, this existence, this reality, our day-to-day is mired in stress. Diluted by materialism. Confused by mixed-messages. Distracted by busyness. Misguided by mediocrity. I put a lot of energy into things that won't matter very long. I get wrapped up in what I have. I get motivated to work for things like accomplishment. I want to be noticed, stroked, patted on the back. I strive for a constant stream of "At-a-boys." I want those I love to be happy & filled. I guess much of this is not necessarily bad. Unless I'm not paying attention to what could possibly be happening that would be infinitely better.
How many times in the Bible are we promised a day-to-day life in the full, realized and tactile (tangible) walk with the Lord? "If my people, who are called by My name..." "They will be my people and I will be their God..." "Your Word is a lamp..." Really, if I were to try to list all of the time He promised us great fellowship with Him, well, this would be a a dissertation on God's crazy desire to be intimate with His creation. But there's a crazy problem here.
You see, He wants to walk with us. In fact, Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit would come and live IN us (John 14-16)! And, here's the most ludicrous part. If you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ. If you have called Him your Lord & Savior; If you have submitted to His Lordship and welcomed a relationship with Him, the Holy Spirit has in fact taken up residence in your soul! He speaks, guides, advocates and convicts for you. In fact, the promise seen in Leviticus 26 has come to reality! He is walking with you. You are a step ahead of Adam! Eve would love to be in your shoes. HE has brought you out of "Egypt." You are delivered! I think we just need to get more accustomed to listening to Him rather than all of the distractions. Yes, even the "would-a should-a could-a's" of the "Garden" life that we long for. Why just walk with Him when He says He'll live in us?
So, may you learn to look deeply into a daily walk with Him that is closer than any person you'll ever be intimate with. May you embrace a life that is full of joyful obedience and sweet conversations with Jesus. May you see that your life has turned out different than you would have ever designed for yourself.. Walk with Him.