The weather’s cold now. Darkness falls before dinner. No one’s too happy about that, but it does leave more time in the evenings to settle in with a good book. Here are recommendations from some of our church leaders. All of these books are available in The Scroll Resource Center.
The Spirit-Filled Life
Beloved pastor and author Charles F. Stanley turns his attention to the power, joy and meaning brought by the Holy Spirit. He also answers tough questions: who the Spirit is (and isn’t), how being filled with the Spirit works, and what the Bible teaches about spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues.
From Chapter One: “For too many believers the Christian life boils down to simply doing the best they can. There is no power or distinction that sets them apart from the way everyone else in the world exists. The good they do can be attributed to their own discipline, determination, and devotion to God, rather than His activity in their lives. … The real tragedy is that we have lost our ability to function in our society the way God originally intended.”Stanley then unpacks what the Spirit-filled life looks like, how to have it … and why so many Christians don’t.
This book is recommended as a complement to our current sermon series on the book of Acts.
A new sermon series, focusing on the book of Acts, starts Sunday, Oct. 6. We spoke with Lead Pastor Luke Uran about this series, which will run through January 2020.
Why Acts? Why now?
As I was praying through the preaching calendar for the upcoming year, one of the books that kept coming to mind was Acts — the work that the Holy Spirit does through the early church, and the way that the church back then was truly a movement. It was growing and healthy and full of life. That’s not to say the church can’t be like that today. But I also look at the early church and think it looks very different than it does today.
Do you think today’s American church typically misses something in this book?
We tend to think, “That was the church then. Those kinds of things aren’t for the church now.” And yet the same Spirit that indwelled the church then indwells us now. The disciples preached, taught, healed and showed the love of God in schools, homes, marketplaces, roads, courtrooms, streets, hills and even on ships. Wherever God sent them, lives were changed. Now it’s our turn.
Atwood is 334 acres of forest, marsh and prairie along the Kishwaukee River near New Milford, with hiking and biking trails. The trail system eventually will grow to about 20 miles on both sides of the river. Atwood Park is also the site of the former Camp Grant artillery range.
Brian Wahl says:
“Atwood park holds a very special place in my heart. It’s a true hidden gem in the area. I’ve been hiking out there since I was in high school, and now I take my kids there. Not only are there great hiking trails and different ecosystems to explore, but there’s also great history there with the remnants of Camp Grant, and the CCC and of course the unique Birds of Prey exhibit. If you time your visit right, you may even be lucky enough to catch a feeding.”
Teaching during the next two Sunday Evening Praise services will address the recent change in the Evangelical Free Church of America’s Statement of Faith. First Free Rockford is a member of the EFCA, an association of autonomous churches united around 10 theological convictions.
At the June conference, EFCA delegates approved a change in Article 9. The change substituted the word “glorious” for “premillennial” in the EFCA’s doctrinal position about the return of Jesus. The statement now reads:
“We believe in the personal, bodily and glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.”
First Free’s Paul Geddes will teach about this and related topics during the next two Sunday Evening Praise services, Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. The services begin at 6 p.m. in the Chapel.
For our church, adopting this change requires approval by the congregation — which is why the old version still appears on our website. Discussion and a vote are planned for the next Meeting of the Members, Feb. 23.
For background on the EFCA change, which was supported by 79 percent of the delegates, here are two helpful resources:
An article by Greg Strand, EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, also points to several other articles that help explain the change and the reasoning.
Christianity Today’s Quick to Listen podcast addresses the issue and the related conversation that’s been taking place in the wider evangelical world.
Our current sermon series plays off this book. We are recommending it for Life Groups and for anyone who wants to dig further into the question of what community looks like for 21st century Christians. The chapters are simple and relatable. Willis includes practical suggestions on how to put principles into action.
This past Sunday, Pastor Luke referenced Willis’ chapter, “Your Best at the Table.” First Free Rockford offers a free, online spiritual gifts assessment. This is an excellent starting point if you’re not sure where you fit. But, as Pastor Luke mentioned, it’s a starting point, not a final conclusion. Willis writes:
“The best tool for discerning your spiritual gifts is not a test, but the body of Christ. There you will find out what you bring to the table. As others to speak into your life and be willing to listen to their insight. Ask them to observe where they see God using you most significantly.” (page 72)
The book is available in The Scroll Resource Center for $8, which is better than you can do onAmazon. There’s also a freeLeader’s Guide download available from Moody Publishers. Life groups who study this book will find unusual depth in the group questions.
Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and anti-Nazi dissident. He wrote Life Together while part of the underground Christian community during World War II. Accused of being part of a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Bonhoeffer was hanged in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945.
His thoughts about prayer, worship, work and service remain thoroughly relevant today. A sample:
“A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.”
For kids: Go deeper into science with …
Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God and Science by Louie Giglio.
If you and your kids or grandkids enjoyed The Amazing Chemistry Show last month at First Free, here’s a follow-up resource. The book contains fascinating facts and hands-on activities, all with a devotional approach. Topics include space, earth, animals and the human body. The regular price is $17.99 but you can get it in The Scroll for $11.99.
The Scroll Resource Center is open from 8 a.m. to noon on Sundays, 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays.