Jim Killam

Healing the blind: A deeper look (part 2)

by Jim Killam | 5-minute read


Periodically on the blog, we talk with a pastor to go deeper into the subject of a particular sermon. This week, in a two-part interview, we talk with Josh Pardee, Pastor of Congregational Life, about Part 3 of Love Walked Among Us. Here’s the second half of our conversation.


So, we’ve talked about some misguided thinking on all this. What are some right ways to think and process as we experience fear, uncertainty, suffering? What’s a way we can focus ourselves that doesn’t take us to these judgmental places?

One, understand that Jesus sits with us in that pain and suffering. He’s fully present to that.  Two, know that he ultimately has victory in the long scheme of things, whether that happens in my physical life or on the other side of resurrection. He already has defeated sickness and this virus and even death itself. Then beyond that, this is where I think local community is so key. Because I sit with my brothers and sisters and I try to discern: God, where are you at work in this and what are you inviting me into? Read More

Healing the blind: A deeper look (part 1)

by Jim Killam | 8-minute read


Periodically on the blog, we talk with a pastor to go deeper into the subject of a particular sermon. This week, in a two-part interview, we talk with Josh Pardee, Pastor of Congregational Life, about Part 3 of Love Walked Among Us. Here’s the first half of our conversation.


Can we start by tackling the prevailing assumption that when bad things happen, it’s God’s judgment? Where does that come from? Is it biblical? 

A lot of it probably comes from the psyche of the law in the Old Testament. It’s blessing and cursing …  If you do this, then I’ll do that. In Luke 13, Jesus references the tower in Siloam and says the people who died in that tragedy were no guiltier than anyone else.

To me, there is a direct correlation between living a life contrary to the ways of God and suffering the consequences. Like, if I don’t tell the truth in my relationship with my kids or my spouse or my employer, that’s going to eventually lead to mistrust and probably devastation. Sometimes, there are also demonic influences that are trying to lead us down the path of death and destruction. Read More

Parenting during COVID-19

We spoke via Zoom recently with seven parents from our church family. Topic: How are you and your kids coping with the stay-at-home order?

*Opinions expressed are the individuals’ own, and do not necessarily represent First Free Rockford or the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA).



A walk among the stones

by Jim Killam | 7-minute read


As the weather slowly turns warmer, First Free Kids Director Kari Heckler walks her neighborhood more.

“I used to run, and then it turned into walking after I blew out my Achilles tendon a few years ago,” she says. “That was so symbolic in my life, because it forced me to slow down and walk instead of run. The difference that I find, especially right now when we are really slowed down, is that I look around when I’m walking.”

Lately, she notices hearts in windows — symbols of hope amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Trees are blooming. She sees things she would have run past before with scarcely a glance. Read More

New donations warehouse serves COVID-19 needs

by Jim Killam | 3-minute read


Chuck Meyers, Win-Bur-Sew Fire Protection District

First Free Rockford is partnering with the Salvation Army and Rockford Sharefest through the Winnebago County Emergency Operations Center to get needed supplies to agencies serving the homeless, needy, and those affected by COVID-19 throughout Winnebago County.

A warehouse inside the former Circuit City store has been set up by the Winnebago County Emergency Operations Center. It’s staffed by Salvation Army members and Rockford Sharefest volunteers. First Free has already made a $4,000 donation to help with warehouse set-up. We’re also offering the use of our church vans to pick up pre-scheduled donated supplies that are delivered to the warehouse. Read More

Good Friday

Editor’s note: This was written before COVID-19, but we think it’s relevant during this difficult week. Enjoy a brief diversion.

by Jim Killam | 4-minute read


Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.

— Luke 1:78-79


Everyone has their fantasy job. For me, it’s nature photographer. Driving and hiking in the dark to crazy places. Setting up equipment, then waiting for daybreak. Chasing light.

Actually, it’s more than that. It’s chasing glimpses of glory. Finding those places where the veil between heaven and earth feels especially thin.

Last year during Easter week, I was in Calgary working with Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada. Much as I love the people and the work there, I couldn’t wait until Thursday afternoon. That’s when I’d grab a rental car and drive an hour to Banff National Park. The mountains were calling, and I had 24 hours before my flight home. Read More

Easter Q&R with Pastor Luke

by Jim Killam | 7-minute read


As we look forward to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we spoke with Lead Pastor Luke Uran about what it’s like to be a pastor in this most unusual season.


I mean this beyond the superficial greeting: How are you doing?

We have good days and bad days. There is a certain amount of grief and loss. Some of the freedoms that we love, we miss. Jessi and I were just talking about this. We are in this posture of: What is God trying to teach us in this? I’m not one who says there’s a lesson in everything or who tries to over-spiritualize things. However, there are a lot of things that God is teaching us in this. He is teaching us the preciousness of being able to meet together as the church, in a physical sense. For us, we are living differently than we have ever lived before in our lives. Community in a person-to-person, physical sense has completely changed. Read More

Permission to be scared

by Jim Killam | 3-minute read


Lauren and I had a fight Sunday afternoon. I’m not sure either of us could tell you what it was about. We retreated to separate ends of the house for a while to decompress. By Monday, things were fine again.

 “Fight” is a relative term for us. We almost never do. In a great marriage, a few words of exasperation can feel bigger than they really are. And that’s what Sunday was: frustration and helplessness in not being able to help our kids with childcare. In having to treat our parents like we are radioactive. In the two of us seeing and feeling needs, with the biggest of those needs being to stay home.

 And we’re not even to the bad part of this thing yet. Read More

Coronavirus Q&R with Dr. Terry Buzzard

by Jim Killam | 7-minute read


Dr. Terry Buzzard is a physician and regional medical director for Physicians Immediate Care, which operates more than 20 clinics in Illinois and Indiana, including Rockford and throughout the Chicago area. Terry and his family are members of First Free Rockford. We spoke with him Wednesday evening about the coronavirus pandemic.


Dr. Terry Buzzard of Physicians Immediate Care

What are you seeing in your clinics?

A lot of doctors’ offices are actually somewhat less busy because of the shelter in place order. People are kind of staying away. But we are getting phone calls or visits with concerns about it.

We have protocols set up where a patient comes in and they are asked some standard questions, risk evaluation questions. If they answer yes, we basically put them in a mask, ask a couple more questions, and then send them back to their vehicle. Then a nurse goes out and does the initial questionnaire evaluation. Those nurses have to gown up in PPE (personal protective equipment – for this type of illness, a mask or respirator, a gown, gloves and eye protection). They don’t know what they’re dealing with yet. Read More

Coping with anxiety over COVID-19: a Q&R with Dick Burkett

by Jim Killam | 8-min read


Dick Burkett is president of a prayer and counseling ministry called Restoration Ministries of Rockford. Dick and his wife, Ellen, are part of our church family at First Free Rockford. We spoke with Dick about spiritual and emotional health during the coronavirus pandemic.


What are you noticing among people you counsel?

I’m seeing a lot of people trying to cope with stresses and fears of the unknown. A lot of uncertainty. There are things that we don’t know and there are things that we do know. We need to realize the difference. We don’t know what tomorrow is going to look like. We don’t know what our 401K is going to look like. We don’t know if we have the virus, or how long this will last.

Read More