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Goal Reached!!!!

Where to start? I feel like we have so much to celebrate!

As of last Saturday, we reached our Advent goal to raise $5,000 toward World Bicycle Relief, an organization that seeks to provide bicycles to people (in particular young women) in developing countries. That means that all the money we collect in our Voice of Hope baskets from now until Christmas Eve night, will go to victims of Hurricane Matthew. Furthermore, I am proud to announce that, after this weekend, we’ve already raised more than $1,700 for hurricane victims. I pray the generosity will continue both this weekend as well on Christmas Eve night.


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Home and Family

Dear COF Family,

I feel compelled to offer a follow-up word to my message last weekend.

As many of you know, we’re walking through a preaching series right now called “Christmas at the Movies” where we are exploring the theological and spiritual themes of 5 different Christmas movies. Many of these movies are comedies, but they also have deeper messages. Last week’s Christmas movie was Home Alone, which-when we watch and listen carefully-contains a powerful word about reconciliation and forgiveness. At the end of my message, I encouraged those of you who had broken relationships in your life to reach out and extend words of “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” to those persons from whom you’ve fallen away.

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World Bicycle Relief

Last weekend we announced our Advent project. From now until Christmas Eve, we’re raising money for World Bicycle Relief (WBR), an organization that seeks to provide bicycles to people in developing countries, specifically to young women. If you want to find out more information about WBR, I would encourage you to visit their website at www.worldbicyclerelief.org. It truly is a terrific organization.

Over lunch last Sunday afternoon, Amanda and I decided that the Christmas gifts we’ll purchase for most of our friends and family-who have enough as it is-will be donations to WBR. That said, we will have donation cards available in the church office if you’d like to pick some up. That way you can give these cards out as Christmas gifts.


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Experience Advent

Happy Friday, church!

I hope you enjoyed a blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends. It’s hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner.

Before we get to Christmas, however, we must first experience Advent. Advent-which begins this weekend-marks the four weeks leading up to Christmas, and ends on Christmas Eve night as we welcome the Christ child into our lives. Advent is a time for us to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

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Give thanks to him and praise his name

As we look toward Thanksgiving, which is less than a week away, I’m finding that I have much to be thankful for:

1. God who, in addition to granting me salvation, is patient with me, and insists on using my imperfections in a glorious way.

2. A wife who loves me and so often puts my needs before her own (even as I seek to do the same).

3. Family members and friends on whom I can rely, and to whom I can turn for support at any moment of the day.

4. A church family that allows me to lead them as their Pastor even while giving me space to spiritually grow.

5. The fact I’ve never gone to bed hungry nor had my basic needs unfulfilled.

The list could go on and on, but I’ll stop there for now.

I’m sure all of us can agree that even in the difficult seasons, we have much to be thankful for. I am reminded of what the Psalmist says:

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Religion and Politics

You’re receiving this on Friday, but it’s Thursday morning on my end. I’m currently sitting at home, trying to write my sermon. But at the same time, I find myself a tad distracted as I think about the events of the last 2 days. I know you’re not supposed to talk about religion or politics. But I’m a preacher, so religion is already on the table. Why not politics as well?

Clearly half of our country is happy with the decision while the other half is upset. Some are celebrating while others are mourning or even taking to the streets and protesting. But the question remains, “Where do we go from here?”

I think a good place to begin is for us as Christ-followers to remind ourselves where our primary citizenship resides. It’s not in the United States, but rather, the kingdom of God. The apostle Paul puts it like this, “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.” (Philippians 3:20).


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Trunk or Treat success

Trunk or Treat on Halloween night was a huge success! We had close to 1,250 people on our campus, which isn’t too bad considering Halloween fell this year on a school night. Of course, we owe a huge word of thanks and appreciation to Kathy Beuttenmuller, our Director of Children’s and Family Ministries, who is doing an outstanding job in her role. We couldn’t have had such a successful turnout without Kathy’s hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence. So thank you, Kathy! We’re grateful God is using your exceptionally good gifts to accomplish God’s kingdom work among us.

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under new management

I want to let you know that, as of last Friday, we have a new Facilities Manager at Community of Faith.

Diana Petras, who had been serving as the interim person in that role for the last few weeks, has graciously accepted the Staff Parish Relation’s Committee offer of employment. Let me tell you, the decision was not easy. We received resumes from, and granted interviews to, a number of superbly-qualified candidates, all of whom would have done an excellent job. However, the SPRC sensed that Diana was the right fit given her gifts, skills, and experience.

Diana is no stranger to COF. She’s been an active member of our church for a number of years. She and her husband, Jeremy, have 2 children, Jacob and Katie, both of whom have literally grown up at COF. So, the next time you stop by the office, make sure to welcome Diana to the team. We know God will use her in a mighty way.

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of bunnies and souls

I want to thank those of you who attended the Pastor Appreciation picnic last Sunday and offered signs of love and support for our ministry together this past year and a half. One of the gifts I received was a large, hardback copy of The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. You may or may not remember that I referenced this popular children’s book in a sermon I preached about a month ago.

In that particular message, I was talking about the relentless pursuit of God and how, like the mother bunny in the story, our God is willing to do whatever it takes to be with us-which includes taking on human skin and voluntarily dying for us on the cross. It brings me great joy to know when God uses a message–even a message preached through a broken person like me–to connect with somebody!

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A busy October

Happy Friday, church!

I want to start by saying “thank you” for stepping up to the plate and donating money to the victims of Hurricane Matthew. Last weekend you raised over $1600. Praise God for that!

Once again, this weekend, our Voice of Hope baskets will be dedicated to victims of the recent hurricane, so give generously to this cause as God leads you.

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Faith in the Storm

As I write this email, I have potted plants, a barbecue grill, and a few lawn items sitting right in front of me. And, the strange thing is, I am not even outside! For us in the Sunshine State, that can only mean one thing-a hurricane is coming.

I am not sure where Hurricane Matthew is going to be on the storm radar by the time you open up this email. For all I know, you might not be able to open up this email until days after it’s sent (which is Friday, October 7th, at 6:00 a.m.). I do, however, hope that you’re safe, and that you have enough food and water to last for at least a few days.

Our plan is to have services as normal this weekend. So, if you’re in town, make sure to join us on Saturday night or Sunday morning. As always, it’s going to a joyous and fun-filled time.

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lots to share

Where to begin? I feel like there’s so much to share here.

To start, Be, Go, Do was amazing. We had a total of 242 volunteers this year, which is 15 more than we had last year. My “job” on Sunday morning was to visit all the various sites, or as many as I could within a few hours. I have to say, the view that impressed me most wasn’t the clothes that were handed out, or the pizza that was served, or the garbage that was picked up-as awesome and life-giving as those tasks were. Rather, the thing I loved most was seeing our motley crew interacting with the people around them. That’s what put a smile on my face and made me proud to be serving this congregation. Church isn’t about people coming to us; it’s about us going to them, serving them in the name of the Lord Jesus. Well done, Community of Faith. Through your witness and example, you demonstrated what it means to follow Jesus.

I also shared with you that Deni Sunderly, our Director of Operations, has answered a call to serve as the Children’s Ministry Director of First Presbyterian Church in Haines City. We are sad to see Deni go, but know God will use her gifts in that context. Deni’s last Sunday with us is
this Sunday. After the 10:30 service, we will gather in the lobby area as we say our goodbyes. I’d encourage you to come, bring a dessert and card, and express your appreciation to Deni for her wonderful ministry with and among us.


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