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Dear First Pres, 

  Hear this exhortation from the Psalmist: Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations (Psalm 100:4-5). This week many of you will be gathering with family and friends for a wonderful meal full of cheer and celebration. But for some of you, this week will bring stress and tears and grief for a variety of reasons. If you're in the first category, you're at risk of forgetting the source of that joy and celebration. If you're in the second category, you're at risk of forgetting the One who loves you and wants you to experience His peace. That's why Psalm 100 is an exhortation for each of us, no matter what our current situation might be. The Psalm reminds us that no matter what we are facing in our lives this week or month or year, the Lord is good and his love endures forever. This is such good news, Beloved. The Lord is good; the Lord is faithful; the Lord's love endures for eternity.
  I encourage you to spend some time this week intentionally entering in the Lord's presence with thanksgiving. Write down specific things that the Lord has done for you and give Him thanks. Read Revelation 21:1-22:5 and thank the Lord for the incredible future He has promised every believer. Make a list of the attributes of God as described in Scripture and thank Him for who He is. Be intentional this week, whether it's a week of celebration or grief (or a little of both) to "enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise."
  Many blessings to you, and happy Thanksgiving.

Blessings,

Jeremy

P.S. Don't forget that we worship on Sunday at our regular times. We have one more sermon in the Biblical Vision series before we launch into Advent. See ya then.

Jeremy Vaccaro
Senior Pastor

Dear First Pres,

If you've missed either of the last two sermons in our Biblical Vision series, I encourage you to go to our website and listen. I'm sorry if that sounds like I'm tooting my own horn. I'm not saying this because I think they were such awesome sermons; I'm saying it because I think they were important sermons for shaping the way we think about our lives individually and corporately. In particular, I believe the passages we looked at from Habakkuk 2 and Revelation 7 are hugely important when we think about our church's purpose and our vision for the future.
   One of the things I pointed out from Revelation 7 is the reminder that the multitude of believers standing before the throne in John's vision are from "every nation, tribe, people, and language." None of us were probably surprised by that. We know that the universal Church is all over the world. And, even in our own city, we know that there are different kinds of churches reaching different kinds of people. This is good news. There is no single local church that can reach everyone; our city needs lots of different churches reaching lots of different people.
   However, I believe this passage does compel us to be intentionally seeking to become a congregation that reflects the ethnic and socio-economic demographics in our neighborhood and city. Why? It's because that's what the Kingdom of God when it comes in fullness, will look like. And part of what we're called to do in the world is to demonstrate for the world what the Kingdom of God is like. We are the witnesses of Jesus to the world in word and deed, individually but even more powerfully, corporately. We do that best when our congregation represents the fullness of the community.
   This was one of the most provocative realities of the early church. Those first congregations in the Gentile world included slave and free, women and men, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, young and old, educated and uneducated. It was incredibly counter-cultural, but it showed the world what kind of community Jesus Christ initiated, and what kind of community (or multitude) He would gather to Himself in the end.
   I don't have all the answers to how we make this happen in our church. I know it will take time. I know it will take intentional efforts individually and corporately. I know it will take great spiritual maturity from those of us who have been here the longest. And I know that it will challenge us in our faith because it won't happen apart from trusting in Jesus. So, I invite you to join me in praying that God will grow FPC Fresno in this way. That He will help us become a congregation that more vividly reflects the multitude that John saw in his vision of Heaven.

Blessings,
Jeremy

Jeremy Vaccaro
Senior Pastor
“The CCO calls college students to serve Jesus Christ with their entire lives.”

   The mission of the CCO is to partner with local churches to walk alongside college students in hopes of figuring out their desires. When we serve Jesus with our entire lives, everything changes; the way we treat our bodies, the way we engage our communities, the way we build relationships, EVERYTHING.

   In our college group, CCO Fresno, we pose the question of what does it mean to have the Gospel impact one’s entire life? The hope is to walk alongside college students to get them to understand that they are living to join Christ in His restoration of all of creation.

   I challenge the students in CCO Fresno by asking, “What are the implications within your future vocation because of the Gospel?” In order for students to understand their future vocation, they have to understand their current calling.

   “Right now, your work is that of a student. You are spending your days studying the creation in preparation for a lifetime of tending to the specific field you have chosen. That work is a holy calling.” To know that God cares about  your studies,your  relationships with roommates, the way you treat your body, the way that you engage in our community, and EVERYTHING else is mind-blowing.

   How will the world be different once we can we answer the question, “What is my salvation actually for?” Throughout the video series ‘For the Life of the World’,  our students have been wrestling with the idea that their salvation is more than just getting into heaven; it extends to helping join Christ in his restoration of creation.

   So, let’s take Austin Jackson, a first year student at Fresno State, studying criminology. During Austin’s time at Fresno State, he will have opportunities to learn how the justice system works. As he ties his faith into his coursework, the question Austin will get to consider is, “How does God care about justice?” He will be challenged to wonder how it will impact families, hospitality, wisdom, God’s wonder and the church. Our hope is that Austin will be an agent of reconciliation as he dreams of God’s redemptive work in the field of criminology. He will be God’s partner.

   The wildest part is that it doesn’t stop there! It also affects Jonathen Marin as he studies mechanical engineering, JR Hancock with nutrition, Shannon Muzio in the field of audiology, and Kaylene Norvell in education. What would happen if each student in our college group grasps this deeper of understanding of God’s dream for their field of study? What about if all the students at Fresno area universities grasped this idea? What if we all asked the question of God’s role in our workplace and joined Him in the transformation?

   This semester in CCO Fresno, students are beginning to understand their role while engaging in the work of Christ so they can see the redeeming transformation in the city of Fresno and beyond.

In Fresno as it is in Heaven,

Geraud Brumfield

Anonymous

Dear First Pres, 

 

   It's hard to imagine that as I was finishing my sermon about the biblical vision of the future from Habakkuk 2:14 in the first service, Devin Kelley was running into a filled sanctuary in Sutherland Springs, TX and unleashing such violence and evil on the women, men, and children worshipping there. What he did is almost unimaginable. But since we live in a time when this kind of violence is so prevalent, it's not completely unimaginable ... but I wish it were.
 
   So, what does that mean about the words we read from Habakkuk? Has God forgotten his promise to Habakkuk who came complaining about the evil of his time? Will the earth really be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea?
 
   I've actually found incredible comfort this week in the words of Habakkuk from Sunday's sermon, and not just verse 14. I encourage you to read Habakkuk 2 again today. In God's response to Habakkuk's complaint you'll hear God's clear judgment against the kind of evil that was let loose in Devin Kelley on Sunday. God is not unconcerned with this kind of violence. He hates it. It will not go unfettered forever. The day will come when God will wipe the earth of it. Praise be to God. Surely the day will come, through Christ the King, that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, and that will be a very good day for all who are found righteous in Christ. Though Habakkuk 2 is filled with "woe," it is meant to be a great encouragement for those who are praying for God's Kingdom to come. And nowhere in the passage is the encouragement more positive than in 2:14, "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." It's the promised action of the Lord.
 
   But until then, how shall we live? Last night, during WednesdayNights @ FPC, the men's group studied Mark 5. It includes the story of Jesus bringing Jairus' daughter back to life. When Jairus approaches Jesus and falls at his feet, his daughter is on the brink of death. By the time Jesus finally gets to Jairus' house, the girl is dead. Still, in verse 36, Jesus turns to Jairus, who just heard that his daughter was gone, and says, "Don't be afraid; just believe." This is how we should live. We need not be afraid; rather, we need to have faith - faith that God can and will do what He has promised, faith that fills us with Christian hope, and faith that compels us to live as God's salt and light in the world. Habbakuk 2:4 says it this way, "the righteous shall live by faith."
 
   Beloved, when the world seems to be deteriorating around you, remember that through Christ the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. And, remember God's call on your life through Christ: Don't be afraid; just believe.
 
   I'll see you Sunday when we will continue to explore the biblical vision for the future.

Blessings,
Jeremy

Jeremy Vaccaro
Senior Pastor
   We are incredibly grateful for all of you who participated in one way or another in the Fulton Street Party October 21st. FPC was well represented on the volutneer teams as well as in the crowd. Maybe you saw the picture above on Facebook? Have you heard about the folks who offered prayer? Here's the story from Barbara Andrews:
 
   Several people from FPC Prayer Team felt that we were to bless our city by walking Fulton Street with our First Presbyterian Church T-shirts on with a “NEED PRAYER?” badge attached. It was our intent to pray with folks that wanted prayer and to pray generally for our city and those who serve in public office. Of course, we were the ones who were blessed
   We experienced divine appointments! Jesus gave us a chance to pray for the sick, the desperate who wanted prayer for their children, immigrant families and to share with an unbeliever the reason for our hope. Our courage was challenged and our faith tested as we asked people if they would like prayer or were asked by people for prayer. The joy that God gave us and people we prayed with was almost tangible.
   Truly, it was a great blessing for us as God challenged us to take the step of faith and trust Him for the results. Our city is surely loved by Jesus Christ and He is doing a great work using His people in so many different ways. PRAISE THE LORD!

   To God be the glory as He continues to teach us how to love Fresno!

Communications
Communications Assistant

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