Developing followers of Jesus who love God,love people, and introduce the world to Christ.
The Winter Olympics begin this week! What an exciting time of celebrating the magnificent athletic achievements of talented, dedicated men and women from around the globe. We all swell up with admiration when an athlete walks to the top of the medal stand, bends down, and has a gold medal placed around his or her neck. That athlete’s life is changed forever. People stand and applaud. Lucrative endorsement deals are often forged. Record books forever contain the name of the gold medal winner.
What a blessing to know that God values every person on the planet multitudes higher than we value our gold medal winners. “For God so loved the world …” These are not just mere words – they are a powerful reminder that God loves each and every person on this planet.
As we continue to focus on unity this year, our preaching theme for the next four weeks will be on the power of valuing people as God values them. Nothing portrays unity better to a divided culture than our unrelenting love exhibited to all of God’s favorite creation. Sadly, there are many folks in our culture that we either look past, forget, ignore, or downright don’t like. Our uncomfortableness or our prejudice towards folks does not portray the love that God has for everyone. Whether it’s the unborn, the elderly, the poor, or the person who looks different from you – God loves and values them all. We must as well.
Fairmount’s preaching team will tackle a handful of these struggles, offering Biblical teaching on overcoming our tendency to see others as less than gold. Be here each Sunday and bring a friend or two so that we can all be inspired and motivated by the gold-standard of love – God’s love.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed, He gathered His closest friends together in a special place for a special meal, for special teaching, and for a special time of prayer. In that prayer, Jesus lays out His heart on some of the most important emphases of His ministry. In that prayer, Jesus makes a special plea for the unity of His followers. John records Jesus’ words for us:
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one …”
Jesus knew that the human heart’s default position is not one of unity. Pride, preservation, greed, and a host of other self-centered motivations erode even the tightest of unities. The one organization we would always hope to be above such self-centeredness would be the Church. Yet, Jesus knew better.
Unity is not the rule of the day in our nation or in our world. We can become cynical and say that it will never happen, or we can take the prayer of Jesus proactively and work daily for the unity He desires. If it doesn’t happen within the Church, it could never happen. In fact, unity must start with the Church.
This January – and throughout 2018 – our preaching team is going to emphasize the unity that Jesus prayed for 2000 years ago. What unifies us? How is our unity best expressed? How can we keep the unity – the one-ness – of the church strong so that we can spread unity and one-ness to a deeply divided community, nation, and world? Ambitious? Perhaps. Godly? Most definitely.
Join us each week as we draw closer together in our unity and as we inspire each other to spread that unity near and far.
In my elementary and early middle school years, I grew up in a Midwest farming community. When the month of November rolled around, two major things happened. First, extended family got together for Thanksgiving. We would eat great food and the kids (all of us boys) would head to the school grounds to play basketball.
The second thing that happened in November in this Midwest farming town was bringing in the remaining harvest. Even though my allergies would be a mess, I enjoyed driving the machinery. I probably began driving the tractors and trucks when I was 10 or 11 years old. So many of my childhood Novembers were filled with family and harvesting.
When thinking about a sermon series for the month of November, the preaching team came up with the idea of talking about family and how, as families, we might harvest some of God’s teachings to help us have and be a part of a stronger family.
When we considered lessons a family might harvest from the Bible, we thought the book of Ruth would be a great place to do our gleaning. So this November, we will spend time together learning about the ups and downs, and the strengths and weaknesses, of the family written about in the book of Ruth. And hopefully we will be healthier families for it.
On October 31, 1517, German monk Martin Luther tacked a document to the door of the church in the town where he was both priest and professor. The document he had written aired the grievances he had at the time with the Roman Catholic Church. That simple yet courageous act is viewed by many as the symbolic beginning of the Reformation, the historical movement that vaulted Western Civilization into the modern era. This year, Fairmount’s preaching staff will, from the pulpit, commemorate the 500th anniversary of this historically pivotal moment.
Now, before you start yawning, the Reformation’s importance goes way beyond that of historical reputation. It cannot be overstated … the very fundamental facets of our faith crystalized as a result of the Reformation: the Bible alone, Jesus alone, and grace alone. For three weeks we will look at each of these foundational teachings of the Church Jesus established in the New Testament. This series will not only serve as a refresher for us, it will also be the perfect series to invite a friend who may be interested in what our Christian faith is all about.
We may not have cake and balloons, but we will celebrate God working through history in monumental ways. We look forward to having you join us.
Though Americans are going to the movies less and less, the popularity of movies actually hasn’t waned. With the proliferation of non-theater movie-watching methods, more people are enjoying more movies more often. One the easiest ways to engage our non-Christian friends is to initiate or participate in conversations about the popular movies of the day. Cultural engagement is vital if we are going to reach increasingly skeptical neighbors and friends. Though folks may never enter into a conversation about spiritual or religious topics, they are more than eager to enter into a conversation about the blockbuster movies of the day.
With our newest sermon series, “At the Movies”, the Fairmount family will use five much-anticipated films that easily open the door for conversational engagement. Movies demonstrate the human condition like few other media. In doing so, they open the door for people of faith to share the truths of the One who loves humans regardless of their condition.
In this September series, we will explore the Biblical themes of these popular movies, discover ways to engage our friends, and be reminded that we can even use the works of Hollywood to share the love of Christ. Invite a friend to join you “At the Movies” and they will see Jesus as well.
Do you remember the first time you ever saw a high definition television? Some folks had HD TVs before their programming providers were providing HD signals! But that first time you saw your favorite movie or sporting event or crime drama in HD, your reaction was probably, “Wow!” The stars in “Star Wars”, the grass in Nats park, the wrinkles on Mark Harmon’s face … you could see it all. And there was no going back. Anything less than HD is disappointing.
Thankfully, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have a multifaceted view of Jesus given to us by four Gospel writers – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The first three Gospels are often referred to as the “synoptic” Gospels – “synoptic” indicating “similar”. And they are indeed similar in style and include many of the same accounts in the same sequence. The Gospel of John, though, amps up our view of Jesus into high definition. Written several years after the others, John’s account is truly unique and gives us that added detail that we are deeply blessed to have.
Each summer, Fairmount reads through a book of the Bible together. This year, we will work through the unique Gospel of John together. We will be reintroduced to accounts from Jesus’ life and teachings from His ministry that are simply found nowhere else. Our view of Jesus will become even sharper and better defined.
Be a part of our Sunday sermon series, “Jesus in HD”. When you are in town, be in worship – we have four to choose from! Invite a friend to join you and get to know Jesus even better. When not in town, feel free to catch a message on your computer. Or download the Fairmount app and listen there. There are many ways to stay connected over the summer! This new series begins July 2.
In John 10:10, Jesus profoundly tells His listeners that He came to bring us abundant life. Jesus wasn’t talking about an abundance of possessions or wealth; He was referring to an abundant life filled with the good things of God. Sadly, many times we allow the stress and strife of this world to stand in the way of that abundant life. This stress and strife affects us to the point of poisoning our emotions and our feelings. Those negative emotions should be reversed and can be reversed with Jesus’ help.
In our newest sermon series, “Toxic”, the Fairmount family will delve in the negative, toxic emotions that too many of us harbor – emotions of envy, pride, rage, fear, and bitterness. As we tackle each of these, we will discover the perfect antidotes that Jesus provides us to reverse the poison that they inject into our lives.
If you have a smart phone or are active on social media, you are familiar with emojis. You’ll see an emoji in the graphic for this sermon series. Emojis are those small pictures that can be used to decorate a message that is going to a friend or can be used to accentuate a message on social media. The wide variety of emojis cover the wide variety of emotions that any of us may be experiencing at any time. Just like our emotions, emojis are everywhere. Emojis can be used to express every emotion from joy to anger – confusion to contentment – and many more. We can choose the emoji we use in a text message – with Jesus’ help, we can choose the emotions we express on a daily basis.
Jesus addresses the prevalence of toxic attitudes in Luke 6:45: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Let’s have our hearts overflow with the good that God wants for us. Invite your friends and family members to go on this emoji journey with us.
Prayer is the simplest of all the spiritual disciplines, requiring nothing other than a desire to talk with God. Yet we make it one of the most challenging disciplines of all. Even the disciples felt the need to ask Jesus how to pray. For the next three Sundays, the Fairmount family is going to do a study on prayer during the preaching time. We will focus on the relationship with God that prayer develops and deepens; the mechanics of an active prayer life; and the blessings that come when we engage in this special gift that God has given us.
Remember, in one sense it doesn’t matter how you pray – it matters that you pray. God just wants us to talk to Him. In this day and age of advanced communication technology, there is nothing more intimate and meaningful than talking to someone. Let’s take a moment, put down the mobile devices, turn off the TV, and talk to our heavenly Father.
This would be an excellent series in which to invite your friends and family. They too will be reminded of – or discover for the first time – the simple, yet profound, gift of prayer – the gift of talking with God.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount ended with His call to make a radical decision – build our lives on the rock of His words or build them on the sinking sand of our own choosing. In our next sermon series – vs. – we want to further examine the fundamental choice of this generation – and every generation prior and afterward. Will we live by Biblical standards, or will we live by one of the many competing standards that bombard us daily? Will we adopt and maintain a Biblical worldview, or drift in the wind with one of the many other worldviews that surround us.
One of the goals we should each consider in our walk with Christ is to view all of life through a Scriptural lens. This is done through studying the Bible, prayer, and daily relying on God’s direction. One of the avenues for determining whether or not we are seeing life through God’s eyes is to compare our lives to the worldviews that surround us. Thankfully, we have wonderful Biblical texts that show us how these comparisons have been lived out by Godly men and women for centuries.
Starting on March 26, for five weeks, we’ll compare a Biblical worldview with such competing worldviews as materialism, hedonism, legalism, assimilation, and shame. God’s ways are better. Armed with the strength of the Bible we can make the best choices every day.
Invite your friends and family to worship with you. They too can learn of the best, most rewarding way to live.
Living in mainstream U.S.A., we forget sometimes just how different the Christian life should be. In all of our American individuality, most folks do their best to go with the flow, fit in, and not rock the boat too much. Though we are indeed blessed to live in this pluralistic society, Jesus calls us to live a life quite different from the world around us.
As Jesus taught and preached, He preached a message of relationship with the Father – not a message of religion. This made Jesus’ message quite unique. It was, in actuality, quite radical. Perhaps the singular greatest teaching on this radical life that His followers are called to live is the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew’s Gospel, chapters 5, 6, and 7. If the tenets of that sermon would be truly lived by people of Christian faith, our lives and the lives of those around us would be radically transformed.
Plan to be at Fairmount each Sunday morning over the next month as we dive into the Sermon on the Mount, discovering the radical life that Jesus wants all of us to live. Each of us will find that this radical life is the best life to live. Invite your friends. Many of them are looking to get out of a life of humdrum fitting in, and wanting to enter into a life of real meaning and purpose. Let’s be radical!
Dorothy Gale is famous for clicking her ruby slippers together and repeating the phrase, “There’s no place like home … there’s no place like home.” There truly isn’t, is there? One of my favorite metaphors for the church is “home”. Dorothy would be equally correct if she said, “There’s no place like church … there’s no place like church.” The home and the church – at their best – are places of welcome, acceptance, respite, and love. Just like the church, home is not a location as much as it is a group of people.
This January, we want to focus on the home aspects of the church. As we go from room to room, we will find remarkable similarities between home and church. The aspects of home that encourage you and strengthen you the most are only magnified within the confines of our church home.
As we welcome the community in this January, let’s help them find home. Let’s help them find the embrace they have been craving – the welcome they have been missing – and the truth they have been needing. Let’s help them find a Savior who can help them with their troubles. Let’s help them find a family that might not have it all together, but is walking the journey of faith together.
The tornado took Dorothy away from her house. And when she was ready to return, it was not the house she wanted to go back to … it was her home. In the storms of this life, let’s help folks find their way home.
Solomon proclaims in Psalm 127, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” What a poignant proclamation for such a time as this in the life of the Fairmount Christian Church. For over a year, our latest facility expansion has dominated the terrain and the conversation here on campus. Fairmount’s leadership – and hopefully every person that worships here – knows, though, that God is building something much bigger than a building – He is building a church.
As we prepare for the Grand Opening of our new Worship Center, we want to focus on the building blocks that God uses to construct a church that has maximum impact on the community and on the world. Bob Russell, retired minister of the Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, published a book in 2000 by the title, “When God Builds a Church”. During his time at Southeast, the church grew to over 20,000 people in worship services each week. The building blocks that Bob outlines in his book are Biblical and timeless.
Our late fall sermon series, “When God Builds a Church”, is going to explore these important values – values that will make Fairmount much more than a building. If implemented, these values will continue to form Fairmount into a family that reaches the lost, blesses the believer, and honors Christ – a family that accomplishes its Biblical mission of “loving God and loving people”. As we prepare to open our doors even wider to the community, plan to be here each week of this series as we focus intently on how to be the Church that Jesus wants us to be.
Bob Russell, author of "When God Builds a Church," spoke at our December 4th services. You can listen to his sermon in the link below, or watch on YouTube.
What a unique privilege it is for Fairmount to be part of a Central Virginia-wide effort to reach unchurched and unsaved people with the eternal message of Scripture. “Explore God” is going to be a life-changing journey for many folks of all ages from across our community. In addition to discussion groups that are popping up in restaurants, coffee shops, and community centers, churches across the region will be sharing in the preaching portion of “Explore God”.
On seven consecutive Sundays, beginning on September 11, Fairmount’s preaching staff will be answering the “7 Big Questions” – questions most commonly asked by folks seeking answers to matters of faith. These questions will range from “Does life have a purpose?” to “Why does God allow pain and suffering?” to “Is the Bible reliable?” It is going to be an exciting challenge.
The Fairmount family will undoubtedly welcome several – if not many – guests who are coming to explore God with us. That is the primary goal. But an equally valuable goal is the exposure for each of us to these seven questions – questions each of us may be asked any day by a family member, friend, or co-worker.
Join me – right now – in praying for this endeavor. It WILL change someone’s life and, more importantly, their eternity. Encourage folks to check out ExploreGod.com and to consider a discussion group. Invite folks to come to Sunday services with you. Be prepared to learn as each of us … Explores God!
Psalms is one of the richest and most reflective books in the entire Bible. 150 songs and poems penned by as diverse individuals as David, Moses, and Solomon. Like all poetry, language is used to express everything from heart-wrenching anguish to soul-inspiring joy. Part of the richness of Psalms is the theological insights that are found in every line. Much can be learned about the God of the universe just by reading this beautiful book of poetry.
Beginning on July 31, the Fairmount family is going to do a wide overview of Psalms’ theological implications, but do so in a unique way … by looking at the names that are given for God. In “Hello My Name Is God” we will discover a number of ways that the writers refer to the Lord of all creation. Enjoy this theological journey with us. Through learning a variety of these names, each of us will develop an even deeper appreciation for our heavenly Father.
This will be a six-week series. So why don’t you make it your goal to read 25 Psalms a week? You will uncover quite a bit on your own. It is our hope that our prayer lives, our devotional lives, and our personal interactions with God will be expanded and enriched.
In this year of “Under Construction” we are using our preaching time each Sunday to explore themes that help us build a deeper faith. If we allow Him, God is constantly constructing us into the people that He wants us to be. When a house is built, the builder takes special care to make sure that the end product is one that pleases the owner. Our lives are no different. We want our lives to please the Owner – our very Creator.
In Galatians 1, Paul writes his friends and reminds them that they are not to worry about pleasing people, but rather they should live to please God. He writes of himself, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” We need to be God pleasers, not people pleasers.
Starting on Sunday, May 15th, we are going to take a journey together through the Book of Galatians. Along the way we will be reminded how to let God build us into people who are pleasing to Him. This topic is important for believers as we want everything in our lives to please God. This topic is critical for non-believers as well. Invite an unbelieving or unchurched friend to worship with you. Perhaps they will discover that a life pleasing to God is the best life of all.
The Fairmount family started the year of “Under Construction” by examining the personal identity that God has created for each of us. We are reminded from God’s Word that the Creator is the One who builds our identity, and we are not to allow our identity to be constructed (or deconstructed) by the world. As we continue our year-long “Under Construction” theme, in April we will move to God’s construction of our families.
Regardless of the size or nature of your family, there aren’t any of us who don’t have our own concept of the Dream Home. There are entire TV channels dedicated to people finding, building, or remodeling some house into the home of their dreams. What families need to focus on more is the structure and values of the families that live inside those homes.
We are all in a family. Some families are huge – some are tiny. But regardless of the size of your family or what name you have in the family – Mom, Grandpa, Cuz, Auntie, or Bubba - the Bible provides the important lessons we need to create homes that are pleasing to Him and serve as beacons of hope in our communities.
Many societal experts are predicting the demise of the family – and there are social trends and government action that seem to support that premise. What our country and our world needs is strong, Godly families. In this series, we will study five critical family values that should permeate the Christian home, regardless of whether you live alone or with multiple generations under one roof.
Invite a friend to come with you to worship. Our families will grow stronger together.
Have you ever found yourself saying – to yourself or to a friend – “Now you know … God will never give you more than you can handle.” Did you know that this is not found anywhere in the Bible? It’s not found there because God never said it. Yet we hear it often when folks are struggling, and maybe we’ve even said it. How often do we share advice from the Bible that actually isn’t in the Bible? How many common misconceptions do we carry with us when it comes to God’s Word?
In our next sermon series, “God Never Said That”, we are going to look at some of the common errors that good, Bible-centered Christians believe when it comes to Biblical truth. We’ll address these misconceptions and discover God’s deeper – and much better – truths.
There are more than likely some corrections each of us need. Quite likely, there are several corrections your unchurched friends and neighbors need. Why not invite them to walk through this series with you?
And don’t forget, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” That’s in the Bible … right?
Our special lead-in videos for each "God Never Said That" are included here, or you can watch the high-definition versions on our YouTube channel.
What determines your identity? WHO determines your identity? Are we each just complex mixtures of biological and environmental influences … or are we something more? Scripture tells us that we are unique, spiritual beings – created in the image of God Himself; given breath by God Himself. Without a doubt, though, many in the world are convinced that their identity is wrapped up in impersonal genetics and personal choices. This is a perfect example of real and serious “Identity Theft”.
As we begin 2016, our first sermon series of the new year is going to focus on our genuine identity – who we are as highly valued and deeply loved children of God. With an overarching preaching theme of “Under Construction” in 2016, as a church family we are going to look at the foundation of human identity. Who we are. Who God made us to be. With that foundation laid, we will be able to more firmly stand on solid, Biblical ground as we build our lives, our families, our church, and God’s Kingdom.
We all know that the church belongs to Jesus, it’s HIS church. We are blessed, though, that He allows us to call this our family as well. This February, we encourage you to show your love to Jesus’ church in a new and special way. Afterward, please send an email to Rick sharing your experience and how things went.
In 2016, with expansion underway, we want to focus on the fact that each of us are "Under Construction." We celebrate the fact that God is building us up as His Church. Throughout the year, we are going to focus on four aspects of God's construction.
Who doesn’t like a birthday party? Some of a family’s fondest memories are of the celebrations surrounding the annual recognition of the birth of a loved one – young, old, and in-between. Balloons, cake, gifts, favorite foods … what’s not to like?
Christmas is the greatest birthday party the Christian family celebrates annually. Why not celebrate it in a fashion similar to the birthdays of friends and family that we love so much? No one knows for certain when Jesus was actually born, but December has been utilized by the Church since the 300’s as the month to recognize the birth of our Savior. The modern celebration of Christmas often has little to do with Christ. So every December, the Fairmount family focuses on the most important component of Christmas – the reminder of the birthday of Jesus.
For the Christmas season this year, our preachers will lead us through the sermon series “Birthday Party”, taking the elements of a family celebration, and relating those elements to how we recognize the greatest and most significant birthday of all.
We’ll even have cake! On December 13, after “A Quiet Winter’s Night”, there will be birthday cupcakes for us to rejoice together at the birth of Jesus.
Let’s celebrate the season together! Bring a friend or family member along to enjoy the birthday of Jesus.
Perhaps the seminal song from “The Sound of Music” is “Climb Every Mountain”. The show-stopping song comes at the heart of the musical as Maria is challenged to follow God’s leading in her life. It is sung again at the end as the von Trapps make the decision to climb the mountains to escape the Nazis. Set against the background of the Austrian Alps, the song identifies the “mountain” as what seems to be an obstacle, but what ultimately brings us closer to God.
As Captain von Trapp, Maria, and their family are attempting to escape from the Nazis, the Captain makes a desperate claim to the Mother. “I’ve always thought of these mountains as my friends – standing there protecting us. Now they seem to have become my enemies.” But the elderly nun quotes Scripture and inspires an epic journey. She challenges the von Trapps with the very words of Psalm 121: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.”
This challenge is deeply relevant to every one of us every single day. The mountains that were ascended in the Bible give us inspiration today to face any and all challenges. With God as our strength, at the summit of each mountain, we experience His blessings in a powerful, life-changing way. As we host “The Sound of Music” for our community this month, we’ll use our Sundays to consider every mountain that lies before us – and we’ll climb them with God.
November 1 is a special day at Fairmount. As part of ICOM weekend, we will have four guest speakers.
At the 8:15 a.m. service, Mike Schrage from Good News Productions International will be preaching. On top of his duties at Good News, Mike will be serving as the President of next year’s ICOM in Lexington, KY.
At the 9:30 a.m. service, Mick O’Hanahan from Niños de México will be preaching. Fairmount has a long history of partnering with Niños. We will be taking a short-term mission trip to Niños in July 2016.
At the 11:00 a.m. Traditional service, Neil Wheeler of the Virginia Evangelizing Fellowship (VEF) will be preaching. Fairmount has been an integral part of the VEF for several decades. Bubba Tucker served as the Treasurer for the VEF for many years. Upon his retirement from Fairmount, Harry Gill worked as the director of Church Relations with the VEF until this past year. In 2016, Rick Raines will serve as the President of the Board of Directors for the VEF.
Finally, at the 11:00 Contemporary service, Lynn Laughlin of Lincoln Christian University will be preaching. Chris and Holly Santasiere are graduates of Lincoln. Lincoln Christian University, located in Lincoln, Illinois; has been training preachers for service in the local church since 1944.
Prayer is the ultimate step to being Unleashed in the world today.Though prayer is embedded in practically all of Fairmount’s sermon series, as ICOM is on our doorstep, we want to be deeply involved in lifting up our hands and hearts to the God of this universe.Following up on our “Heart Transplant” series, for three weeks we will delve into the very issues that were at the heart of Jesus’s prayers.No one loved the world more than He did, so we can learn much about what it means to be Unleashed in the world through praying like Jesus prayed.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. Over 3000 human heart transplants occur in the world each year. But the worst heart disease is the disease that no earthly doctor can detect. And no more important heart transplant will take place than the one that God will do inside of any person who will let Him.
Ezekiel 36:26 says, ““I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” God is ready to give us a new heart – a heart not burdened by sin, callousness, guilt, apathy, and so many other hardening agents. He will give us, if we ask, the heart of Jesus.
In this short, four-week series we will look at having a heart like Jesus. Who He cared for. Who He targeted for special attention. Who He loved that may not have deserved it. We need to have His heart.
The human heart will not last forever, but the one God gives us will. Let’s go to the Great Physician for a heart exam – and eagerly accept a new heart from Him – and then let’s do our best to take good care of it.
During this series we will also emphasize heart health – the blood mobile has already made a stop and we’ll have blood pressure screenings, heart health information, and even AED training!
This year, for the first time ever, Richmond will host ICOM - the International Conference on Missions. This October, Christians from around the world will gather to worship, fellowship, encourage, and be encouraged.
Jim Tune, ICOM’s president, shares the following regarding the theme of this year’s conference, “The Away Team”:
“The Away Team is a sports metaphor that illustrates how times have changed. There was a time when the church had home field advantage in the USA, Canada, and other parts of the world. Christians were the majority, influenced culture and enjoyed political privilege. In other words, we had the equivalent of home field advantage. But times have changed. To be victorious today, we need to adopt strategies that reflect our position as visitors to our own culture.”
This summer, as Fairmount continues to prepare for this exciting event in which we will be deeply involved, we will use “The Away Team” as our preaching theme. We’ll specifically focus on the Book of Acts where we’ll study the strategies we need to stay strong and reach the lost.
The original church truly was the Away Team in every aspect. They were faithful to Christ in the midst of great hostility, and in their faithfulness, they changed the world. Now it’s our turn!
This past Christmas season, my family and I attended the movie, “Unbroken” – the amazing, true story of Louis Zamperini. Louie’s story is one of great anguish and great triumph. An American bombardier in the Pacific Theater during World War 2, his plane crashed at sea where he and two other survivors were afloat for 47 days. But rescue came – in the waiting arms of the Japanese military. Louie spent the rest of the war in a number of Japanese prisoner-of-war camps – beaten, abused, and enslaved by his captors. What a powerful scene in the movie when an American bomber appears over his prison camp dropping leaflets that announced that the war was over. He and thousands of prisoners were, in a moment, set free.
The movie pretty much ends with the end of the war, with Louie coming home to the waiting arms of his never-lose-faith mother. But that is not the end of Louie’s story – not by a long shot. After the war, Louie’s life takes a tragic turn with failed business plans, haunted nightmares, and a descent into alcoholism. In the midst of it all, Louie begrudgingly attends a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles. And it is then, by the amazing grace of God, that Louie turns his life over to Jesus Christ. For the first time in his entire life, Louis Zamperini experiences what it means to be truly set free.
This spring, Mike, Chris, and I will be preaching a sermon series entitled, “Set Free”. We will be looking at ways in which Jesus sets us free from the shackling bonds of the evil one. Some of us, like Louie, have been or need to be set free from alcoholism or hopelessness. Some of us have been or need to be set free from discouragement or grief. Some of us have been or need to be set free from sin or pride. There are many shackles that the devil uses to keep us from enjoying the abundant life that Jesus wants us to have – that Jesus died for us to have.
2015 is the year of Fairmount being unleashed on the world. God is leading us in a powerful direction with a powerful mission. This year continues to be one of excitement and opportunity. In our “CrossFit” sermon series, we looked at how to be “fit” like Jesus – prepared for God’s power to be unleashed in our lives. In “Unlocked”, we delved into the Bible, understanding that its words are the very unleashing words of God. Our next sermon series, “Designer Genes”, begins on March 8, and will focus on the church.
A body of healthy Christians creates a healthy church – a church ready to be unleashed. So what does a church that is ready to be unleashed have at its very core? What common traits run through the DNA – the very makeup – of every unleashed congregation? In this series, our church family will talk about our genetic makeup. We’ll enhance the strands of our DNA that are strongest – and we’ll be challenged to fortify the strands that need strengthening.
God has designed the church body to be one of prayer, connection, growth, and sharing. This is the kind of church your friends and neighbors need and want (even if they don’t know it!). Invite someone to come with you as we strive to be the people – the church – that God has designed us to be.
Many people treat the Bible as a great mystery, as if it’s something that needs to be “solved” or “figured out”. Maybe they think it’s a code, waiting to be cracked. Or maybe they think it’s merely an ancient writing that contains irrelevant secrets of old.
In actuality, the Bible is a powerful tool that God designed for us to use actively and often. As unleashed Christians, we HAVE to be in the Bible – learning and living what it says. But we first have to get past any hesitations we might have regarding Scripture.
In this four-week series, we will tackle some of the underlying realities of the Bible. The Bible is inspired, inerrant, historical, and relevant. In unlocking this tool, we will be more than willing to utilize it on a daily basis to change our lives… and change the world.
What do you think of you when you hear the word “unleashed”? A dog loose in the neighborhood? A prisoner set free from his cell? A toddler out of her stroller in Toys-R-Us? All constraints gone – total freedom – nothing holding them back.
What would an “unleashed” church look like? What would a church look like that removed the constraints of caution, listened intently to God, and did exactly what He was leading them to do? There is no doubt that would be an exciting place to worship and an exciting place to be involved and active.
In 2015, I envision Fairmount being “unleashed” – I envision Fairmount being let loose on the world around us – nearby and faraway. I envision 2015 as a watershed year for our church. The groundbreaking on our largest expansion to date. The International Conference on Missions coming to town – and with it the start of seven new churches around the globe. Our major outreach musical production in November. A Big Build. Mission trips. These are significant events that have the potential to shape our church and its culture for decades to come. But these are not just mere events. These and all our many ministries are opportunities. Opportunities to further our mission of loving God, loving people, and introducing the world to Christ.
Through the faithful and fervent prayers of our people, it would appear as if God is ready to unleash His church here at Fairmount in a powerful and world-changing way. From the pulpit, every sermon series for the entire year will, in some way, come back to this theme of “Unleashed”. Our visual for this year long theme is one of runners at the starting line – the gun has sounded – the runners are unleashed for the great race ahead. The writer of Hebrews says, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us …” Unleashed!
The question is … are YOU ready for what God wants to unleash through YOU?
For centuries, the artwork of the Western World overflowed with Biblical images. From Michelangelo’s “David” to Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”, Biblical images have formed some of history’s most priceless pieces of art. These masterpieces have stirred the hearts of Christians and non-Christians for hundreds and hundreds of years.
The life of Jesus has been a dominant theme of Biblical art. His birth, miracles, teaching, death, burial, and resurrection have been depicted in every form of artistic expression. Masterpieces have traced the life of the most consequential human to ever walk the planet. Over the last several years, another masterpiece has found its way into our homes as postage stamps depicting Jesus and His mother, Mary, decorate our Christmas cards.
Taking some of the great Christ-child masterpieces in history as our catalyst, Fairmount’s preaching series for December will focus on… who else?… Jesus. The artistic masterpieces of the past were often the only way that people could “read” the Bible for themselves, so artists often taught amazing lessons through the strokes of their brushes. What does the Bible and the accompanying artwork say about our great Lord and Master, Jesus Christ? What a perfect time to invite friends and family who don’t have a church home. Let them experience with you the beauty and joy of what followers of Christ have enjoyed for 2000 years.
In 2013, our church family tackled some of the tough questions that our ministerial staff is asked on a consistent basis – questions that many of us also get asked on a consistent basis from friends and family. The topics of those questions were diverse and wide-ranging, and they provided an excellent opportunity to turn to Scripture and ask God what HE had to say on the topics.
This fall, we are going to take a turn in the hot seat, and review some of the tough, challenging questions that God asks US. Throughout Scripture, God asked His people many thought-provoking, demanding, heart-wrenching questions. God already knows what the answers are. Thankfully, the penetrating light of God’s questions leads us to a stronger faith and a better understanding of who God really is. Through the use of exceedingly excellent questions, He is always trying to teach His people an important lesson. What lessons will we learn?
For the past several years, the Fairmount family has enjoyed a summertime tradition that folks around the country have enjoyed for decades – the tradition of summer reading. Many folks love to load up on books – or, these days, download books – for reading on vacation, sitting out on the porch, or lounging by the pool. For this summer, I’ve lined up a fictional novel, a book from American history, and a piece of classic literature.
Since 2010 Fairmount has selected a Bible book to read through and study over the summer as well. This year our staff selected the letter of 1 John. The title of our summer book series is “Fearless”.
John talks a lot about love in his writings. In his Gospel, he uses the word “love” over 40 times. The most memorized verse in the New Testament begins with, “For God so loved …” John’s three letters are peppered with reminders of Godly love. In Revelation he warns the churches about losing their first love and falling in the footsteps of those who love the world.
The love that John encourages for the follower of Jesus is a fearless love. In 1 John 4:18, John writes, “There is no fear in love …” Aren’t you glad that Jesus loved you without fear? That He left the comforts of heaven to live here on this earth. That He suffered the constant antagonism of His naysayers. That He endured verbal and physical abuse. That He died on a cross for you. THAT is fearless love. There is no fear in love. Love should indeed be… fearless!
That is the kind of love we need to have. A fearless love that changes the way we live – that changes our families – that changes our communities – and that, ultimately, changes the world.
We are providing a devotional guide to help you keep the theme of fearless love on your mind the entire summer. Having the guide with you will help to keep you in touch with our sermon series all summer – when you are at home and when you may be on the road. You can pick up the devotional guide at any guest table or in the church office beginning Sunday, June 29. You can also download a copy of the devotional guide (PDF reader required).
I encourage you to be at Fairmount every Sunday you are in town. And then on Sunday or Monday enjoy the devotion for that week that has been prepared by a member of our congregation. There is a theme verse that they have chosen – challenge yourself to memorize each theme verse. There are only 10 of them. Each day there is also a Prayer Prompt for you to keep the theme of that week in mind – and even space for you to jot down a few thoughts as the Scripture and the prayers inspire you.
We will also have a “Fearless Love Challenge” for you to consider each week. Fearless love means getting into action. Consider the action step we will share with you from the pulpit each Sunday – and then, drop me a note and let me know about your experiences. I can’t wait to hear how fearless love comes alive in our Fairmount family this summer.
Follow along with us as we read of this fearless love – and then do it. Get out and love fearlessly.
I look forward to learning and loving along with you.
How many homes have Transformers lying around? The Transformer toy line has been around since the mid-80’s and it’s still going strong. How easy it is to take a Transformer and, with just a few twists, convert a robot into a car or a truck or an airplane – or vice versa? Oh that life transformation was so simple! Many of us live lives that are in desperate need of transformation. Many of us live lives that have already been dramatically transformed by Christ.
In this fall’s preaching series, we will not only study the Scriptures of real transformation, we will hear from Fairmount folks who allowed Jesus Christ and His Word to transform them. It will be a powerful reminder for all of us of the awesome, mighty, transforming power of God.
We are entitling this series, “Extreme Makeover – Life Edition”. The “Home Edition” was a very popular TV series for nine seasons. Almost 200 homes and schools were transformed from something practically uninhabitable into something amazing. THAT is what Christ does for us. If we let Him, He will take our lives and transform them into something amazing.
Over the course of this series, we’ll address some life issues for which many of us need transformation: apathy, loss, addiction, finances, discouragement, and bitterness. Hopefully, each of us – and those we invite – will experience the power of God’s transformation in small or in grand ways.
Each year, Fairmount has emphasized part of our mission and vision statements. This year, we will go through each of the four points of our vision statement...one Sunday for each point, spread throughout the year. Fairmount's mission is to develop followers of Jesus who love God, love people, and introduce the world to Christ. We will accomplish that mission by being...
A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, "Eighteen to nothing - we're behind."
"Boy," said the spectator, "I'll bet you're discouraged.”
"Why should I be discouraged?" replied the little boy. "We haven't even gotten up to bat yet!"
There’s nothing like hope, is there? Yet, for many people, hope is an unknown or a fleeting commodity in their life. Financial volatility, global uncertainty, family instability, job insecurity… all of these things contribute to a growing sense of hopelessness in our lives and in the lives of those we love.
Beginning April 13, the preaching team will be sharing with our church family eight messages on hope.
We’ll start on Palm Sunday with “The Sunset of Hope” – imagining the hopelessness of Jesus’ disciples as they watched their Friend and Savior brutally killed.
On Easter Sunday, we’ll embrace “The Sunrise of Hope” – when God turned the tables on the devil and death, showing the world that hope is indeed alive and well.
On April 27, we’ll begin a six-week series entitled, “Hope Rising”. We’ll look at the hopeless struggles we face in life and learn to face them with the hope that is only found in our Lord. We will turn to the life of Joseph in the Book of Genesis as our model for living a life of hope in the midst of hopelessness. Leading up to this series we will be making available copies of Max Lucado’s book, You’ll Get through This, as a supplement to our Sunday mornings together.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” We all desperately need that hope. We need to live as people of that hope. We need to give that hope away to the world. Real hope is only found one place – our risen Savior, Jesus.
Noah may be the most culturally recognized of all the people of the Old Testament. His story has mesmerized Christians and non-Christians alike for thousands of years. Noah and his ark have been the inspiration for countless toys, cartoons, works of art, and nursery decorations. Hollywood has now decided to dive into the Noah account in a significant way. As Paramount Pictures releases their major motion picture, “Noah”, this March, our church will take the opportunity to delve into the historical, Biblical account of this man who God used to save humanity and the world from total destruction.
Articles are already showing up in dozens of secular and religious publications and websites about the movie “Noah”, its creators, and, of course, its content. There is no doubt, with the star power behind “Noah” and the $130,000,000 it took to produce it, the movie will undoubtedly be the topic of many water-cooler conversations over the course of the next few weeks. As Christians, we should participate in such conversations – not to arrogantly correct the inevitable errors that will populate this secular movie, but to lovingly point people to the real, historical Noah and, much more importantly, the powerful message of hope he provides. We’ll look through the eyes of Noah and be reminded of what God says about the devastation of sin, about the wonders of grace, about a loving Father’s plan, and about His eternal promise to all who walk this earth.
Take your Bible out and review the story of Noah in Genesis 6-9. Then plan to be here each Sunday in March as we embark together on this incredible voyage.
The Christian life is a contact sport...YOU NEED THE BOOK OF REVELATION. Despite popular opinion, Revelation is not an end-times mystery to be solved. It’s a hard-times message to be embraced. Written to struggling churches, the book proclaims a powerful word of hope: at the end of the story, we win. Join us as we walk through the book of Revelation in eight weeks emphasizing that Jesus is victorious and He is coming back.
This year’s Christmas production, Four Tickets to Christmas, is a story about relationships. During December, we’ll examine the individuals surrounding Jesus’ birth and discover their keys for healthy relationships.
One of my favorite childhood memories is spending the night at my Granny’s house and listening to the stories she would tell me as I fell asleep. Even though it’s been almost 30 years since I’ve heard one of Granny’s stories, I can still remember a few of them. I’ve even retold one or two of Granny’s stories to my kids over the years. Stories stick with us. Jesus knew this and that is why He was a master storyteller. The majority of His teachings were told in a form of story called a parable. Parables are simply short stories that teach a spiritual lesson.
During the month of November, we’re presenting a sermon series entitled “Tell Me a Story”. Each week, we’ll listen to one of Jesus’ parables from the gospel of Luke and discover together the spiritual truth that lies behind the story. To help you prepare for these messages, here are the parables we will be studying:
Jesus’ parables are considered to be some of the greatest stories ever told. They captivate our imaginations and stir our hearts to this day. The lessons within the parables are so powerful that these stories have been recited and passed on for almost 2,000 years. Get ready for a month of stories and spiritual lessons that will hopefully stick with you for the rest of your life.
The best defense is a good offense… the best offense is a good defense. It really can work both ways. It most certainly does in the Christian life. God has given us the spiritual armor and weapons we need to fight the spiritual battle going on all around us. We must protect ourselves from the devil’s schemes and we must take the battle directly to Him. Paul’s “Armor of God” section in Ephesians 6 is a great lesson for every Christian actively fighting that battle.
Over eight Sundays this September and October, we’ll gear up with the protection and weapons we need for this awesome battle. Each Sunday, we’ll hear from a friend in our congregation who gears up daily to do their job – and we’ll be reminded of the critical importance of gearing up every day to do our job – fighting the good fight of faith. You won’t want to miss a single Sunday!
For thousands of years, people have turned to the Book of Proverbs for sage advice and helpful, pithy reminders on how best to live. For our summer book series this year, we will walk through this 31 chapter book section by section. Though not tied neatly together like many other books of the Bible, God will bless each reader in different ways. We will be blessed as a congregation on Sunday mornings when we come together each week to focus on one topic in this great book of wisdom.
Our series title sounds like an epic novel or an action adventure movie, as the hero searches for clues to find some hidden treasure that will bring riches beyond imagination. This summer, we might even have a little treasure hunt to go along with our series. But, when it comes right down to it, there is no greater treasure than possessing God’s wisdom. It is not hidden. It is not encoded. It is not a mystery. It is readily available to us in His Word. And the Book of Proverbs is a trove of treasure beyond all the world’s riches.
Start reading today. Let’s go treasure hunting together – July 7-September 1.
As an added bonus, Geoff Johnson has developed for our congregation seven puzzles to whet the appetite of all you treasure hunters out there! Each Friday, a new puzzle will be sent out through the Friday email. The puzzle will then be available on the website on the subsequent Sunday – and will be available in paper format at each of our welcome/guest tables.
These puzzles are quite a challenge – but they each point to a particular treasure found in the Book of Proverbs. If you get stumped, a Scriptural hint will be given the following week. (I’ll even give you another hint right now … each treasure is a part of your body!) The seventh puzzle will be an opportunity for you to fill in all the summer’s answers, turn it in, and be eligible for a fabulous prize!
So, get ready for some treasure-hunting fun. Feel free to collaborate with friends. After all, a treasure hunt is always more fun with a friend!
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