the community-ist

We’ve had a great time in Mason City the past few days. I even went fishing with my uncle and caught three (small) bass. It’s been over 15 years since I’ve been fishing, so even three little fish was pretty amazing to me. I think we may go out again today before Maggie and I drive home this afternoon.

Yesterday at church (First Covenant Church of Mason City) the sermon was given by the part-time music pastor. Dave is just a year out of college, but he’s doing a great job leading worship. As we learned yesterday he’s also a great communicator. The title of his message was, Is God a Communist? You’ve got to be impressed with anyone gutsy enough to have that as a sermon title! Dave took Acts 2 as his text and talked about how the early church was completely dependent on God working through the community to meet each other’s needs. Here’s the quote of the day from his sermon,

Is God a communist? No. But God is a community-ist.

I’m pretty sure “community-ist” isn’t a word, but maybe it should be. As Dave pointed out yesterday, so many of us live as if an individualistic and autonmous life is our goal. The Scriptures point to a very different ideal however, beginning with God existing forever in community as the Trinity. As those created in God’s image, we’ve been made for the hard, messy, confusing, and ultimately redemptive community that we get a taste of in Acts 2. We’ve been made to be community-ists.

Have a great Memorial Day.

ray’s random thoughts: work


OK. . .so these thoughts aren’t so random. But I’ve been wondering, how has 30% of your week gone? You know, your hours at work? Did you thank God on Monday for the opportunity to do what you do?

As I continue to study what Scripture says about work, the amount of guidance and wisdom God provides is astounding. In preparation for this weekend, here are some texts which address various issues related to our work lives.

Continue reading “ray’s random thoughts: work”

west to iowa

Maggie and I are driving to Mason City, Iowa after lunch tomorrow to spend the Memorial Day weekend with some of my family. I’m not sure either of us could have told you anything about Iowa when we moved to Illinois 7 years ago. OK, so I still couldn’t tell you much. But we do like visiting the family, despite the lovely smell from the soybean processing plant. We do a lot of laughing with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. A lot of laughing. A visit with them is always a really good reminder not to take myself too seriously.

If you’re traveling this long weekend drive safe- especially if you’re inclined to coast on the downhills to save gas. You know who you are. Hope you get some chances to laugh hard. And if you’re worshipping away from PCC this weekend take a moment to thank God for his global Church.

the pcc volunteer celebration is coming together

Yesterday I stopped by Brian’s studio to pick up 10 of the 12 displays he is putting together for the annual Volunteer Celebration. They look amazing. In fact, they look so good that I set them up in the staff lounge so the other staff folks could ooh and ah over them. “What are these displays?” you ask. I’m not going to tell you. Sorry. You’re just going to have to come to the Volunteer Celebration to take a look yourself. In case you’ve had you’re head in the sand for the past month, here’s what you need to know…

Sunday, June 10 // 6:00-8:00 PM // hors devours and dessert

This event is for all Parkview People (and spouses/significant others) who have volunteered this past year. And we don’t care where you volunteered. You’re invited whether you are an Ignite small group leader or a member of your PTA. Just let us know you’re coming (and whether you have kids who need childcare) by RSVP-ing in the lobby.

ray’s random thoughts: virginia tech


It’s been a little more than a week since the shootings at Virginia Tech. As the initial shock of this devastating news begins to wear off, we’re left sorting out the long-term ramifications of a tragedy on this scale.

One sure thing this event accomplishes, it reveals the existence of lost and hurting souls. Countless people in our schools, jobs, neighborhoods, etc., feel isolated and desperately alone. Not all of them will be driven to random acts of violence, however, they are walking around with a God-shaped hole in their hearts, frantically seeking love and longing for a greater sense of purpose. These are the men, women, students, and children of our mission field. Let us seize this sense of urgency to reach out in friendship to those in our community who don’t know Jesus. It is our chance to deepen our relationship with our Creator and point others toward answers only He can supply.

Let us not give up hope. In the shadow of such depravity, it is easy to become pessimistic and negative. I suggest those are weapons of the enemy. Jesus said, “I have come that they [the lost] may have life to the full.” He also said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.”

For us in the church, often spiritual warfare is waged through negativity. If I want to steal your joy, kill your courage and destroy your destiny, I want you to go negative. After the Garden, because of sin, it’s like we became hardwired to see the bad instead of the good, the dirt instead of the cleanliness, to say “I can’t” instead of “I can.” We became negative, because it is impossible to be truly positive without God.

With God, we are a people of hope. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

In the midst of our world, we must not bury our heads in the sand, neither should we immerse ourselves in misery. In our lives, we have limited opportunity to capitalize on this commodity called time. If we are going to do that, we’ve got to look at the things that threaten to keep us from making a Kingdom difference, and one of the most dangerous distractions is negativity. We must guard ourselves against the pervasive pessimism that surrounds us and focus on the work ahead.

Ingesting a steady stream of negative news can elevate our stress. In the week or so since the shooting, there’s actually been an increase in panic attacks around the country. Instead of allowing this tragedy to define us, we need to bring a sense of balance and eternal reality to our lives. God sees all of history at a glance, and we must have faith that some greater good will come from this and hope God will use us to help bring His good to our corner of the world.


Ray is PCC’s Senior Pastor