Hurricane Irma Update

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 AT 1:30pm:

Our area continues to make preparations for Hurricane Irma, and our governor has encouraged everyone to take the situation seriously as we are officially under a state of emergency. We are aware that many families are making preparations and securing their homes and property. Therefore, in the issue of safety for attendees and volunteers serving in our ministry we have decided to cancel all activities tonight, Wednesday, September 6th.

We will make a decision regarding Sunday morning services no later than Friday at noon. As of right now, we are NOT cancelling Sunday morning services. However, if you are a volunteer planning to serve on Sunday morning and you need to evacuate our area, we fully understand and encourage you to make the decision that it is in the best interest of your family. Please notify a ministry leader if you will not be here for any services this Sunday.

First Riverview stands ready to deploy any and all resources at our disposal in order to serve our community in the event of a national disaster. We are not a government approved shelter. Government officials have instructed us to direct anyone seeking shelter to an approved facility at Hillsborough County Emergency Shelters.

First Riverview exists to influence others to become thriving followers of Christ. This certainly applies in all kinds of weather. We are here to serve our community. We will continue to post updates on our website and through social media as we monitor the changing situation.

How a Mentor Helps Us Through Every Life Season

We’ve all heard it said, “There’s a time for everything.” Or “You’re just in a season, it will pass.” In fact, it’s Scriptural:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The good and pleasant seasons sound wonderful and just what God wants for us, right? It’s so easy to think that God couldn’t possibly want what we perceive as a bad or unpleasant season for us. And yet this Scripture passage tells us that God made both, and while we’re alive, we’re going to experience every season—the good and the bad—under heaven.

Pastor Rick Warren often says that life is like a roller coaster: if you’re going up and experiencing a good season, brace yourself because in about three weeks you’ll probably find yourself going down into an unpleasant season, screaming all the way!

We try so hard to hold onto those feel-good seasons, and there’s nothing wrong with that—we should have times of joy, dancing, laughing, loving, and peace. But when the not so good times roll, we need to remember that God has not left us. He’s walking right beside us through the mourning, weeping, uprooting, and war seasons, and that’s when a mentor is so helpful to remind us that she made it through her tough seasons and we will too.

The focus of my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture has Forgotten is for us to remember how good God has been in all the seasons of our life. God never abandons His children. This is a message we need to share with each other and with the culture, especially during these challenging times we live in today.

Reasons for Not Liking our Life Season

Usually we don’t like our life season because:

It’s painful or uncomfortable.
We’re jealous and like what someone else’s life looks like more than our own life.
We’re living with the consequences of our, or someone else’s, behavior or decisions.
We’re discontent or discouraged.
We’re not sure if God still cares about us.

What would you add to the list?

We all have difficult seasons we want to end. Or maybe we’re in a wonderful season that we never want to end. Many life seasons we have no control over, even though advertisers and the culture would try to make you believe differently. They set us up to fail either way by thinking if we just drink the right cola, take the right pill, own the right car, use the right cosmetics and anti-aging products, eat the right food, reach success . . . every season of our life will be heavenly. The aging clock is going to stop and somehow God made our life to be different from everyone else’s life.

But that’s a lie and those who buy into it will never be content because everything God lists in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a season that everyone will experience.

What to Do When We Don't Like Our Life Season

We probably feel like crying, screaming, maybe yelling, getting depressed, ignoring, or trying to get out of it. If we're honest, we've all been there. But soon we realize that the only thing that works when we don’t like our life season is to ask God how He wants us to deal with it, and then listen carefully to how the Holy Spirit speaks to us. It’s that still small voice we hear guiding us when we cry out to God. We might not know how to get through the season, but God does. So often He’s talking, but we’re not listening.

Someone on a friend’s Facebook post asked how my Christian friend knew what God wanted. Did he have a direct line to God? I thought, Yes he does! Every Christian has a direct line to God the world doesn’t understand, and one we don’t use nearly enough: praying to Jesus who hears every word and the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us even when all we can do is groan.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 2:5 26

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
Romans 8:26-27

God doesn’t want us going through any season alone, but He also doesn’t want us listening to anyone who isn’t giving us biblical wisdom. That’s why in my new book, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, every season has Scripture to study together that applies to the various issues women might experience in that season.

Being a mentor, or a mentee reaching out to another woman for guidance, doesn’t mean the mentor has all the answers or the Bible memorized. It just means she's willing to search God’s Word and pray together for Him to tell you both what to do in the life seasons you’re in right now; and then, you both reach out and help someone else going through something similar.

Tammy Keene tells how sisters in Christ mentoring her and walking alongside gave her courage to lead Bible studies and now as Director of FBCR’s TAG Mentoring Ministry:

Without realizing it, my mentoring journey began January 2013 on a treadmill. At the time, I just thought I was asking Lisa to join me on a weight loss journey. But as we exercised, we shared life—the good, the bad, the ugly. Praying for and encouraging each other was especially meaningful – we did life together.

I asked Lisa if she thought the FBCR ladies would enjoy the First Place 4 Health Bible study we were enjoying together, and our “treadmill mentoring” gave me the courage to lead it and eventually start the Tuesday Night Ladies Bible Study. With each new study, Kathy Hosea mentored me as I stretched to grow in spiritual maturity and selecting studies for our group.

During Pastor Jeff’s transformation sermon, God clearly spoke to me about a new ministry for women, a mentoring ministry with a mission statement: Influencing others to become thriving followers of Christ: Touching Another Generation.

TAG’s theme verse Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare your might acts.”

TAG’s Passion is helping women become thriving followers of Christ through intentional woman to woman relationships.

Simply put it is Sisters-in-Christ walking alongside one another, experiencing life together and ultimately growing in faith.

Exactly what Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us we need to do when we’re going through any life season! “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.”

Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness releasing 9/12/17 is available now for pre-order.


Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. (September 12, 2017).  She is also the author of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.  She is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.

Visit Janet at:
womantowomanmentoring.com
facebook.com/Janetthompson.authorspeaker
linkedin.com/in/womantowomanmentoring/
pinterest.com/thompsonjanet
twitter.com/AHWministries

The Danger of Seeking Your Dream Church

Our church, like every other church, gets phone calls throughout the week from people wanting to know about our assembly. They ask questions, but typically they are not the kinds of questions I would ask if I were looking for a church. “What kind of music do you have? Do you have programs for the kids? Does your church home school? Do you have recovery groups? What Bible translation do you use? Do you serve Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts?” Okay, we’ve never had anyone ask that last one, but at times the questions haven’t been much more substantial.

Then, of course, people come and go. People get upset and leave. Unfortunately, people often leave for reasons that likewise lack substance. They are willing to isolate themselves and fragment the church because their theological or ideological boxes have not all been checked.

For some people, these insubstantial issues manifest themselves in obvious and external behavior. But for many, these issues are quieter and less noticeable. They fester in the heart where no one can see.

Assessing Our Assessments

Have you ever been upset with your church? Have you ever been disappointed with people in the church? Have you ever been offended by someone in the church? Have you given up on the church altogether?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then ask yourself, Why? Is it because the Word of God is being violated? Is it because God is being dishonored? Or is it because your view on right and important is not being satisfied?

As a pastor who planted a church in 1993 and has been serving that church ever since, I have seen many get disgruntled with us for not holding tightly enough to the things they thought were important, whether politics, education, or family planning. And the list could go on.

Danger of Our Wish-Dreams

Over the years I have gone back again and again to a little book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together. The wisdom and comfort in this little book is inestimably valuable. One of the most important truths I have gleaned from Bonhoeffer’s work relates directly to the disgruntled, the disappointed, and the angry. Bonhoeffer says:

Every human wish-dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial. God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God himself accordingly.

Brothers and sisters, how we must guard against our own wish-dreams of what the church ought to be. The church isn’t about my preferences, my agenda, my likes or dislikes, my political views or personal convictions. When these wish-dreams govern the way we evaluate a church, we become critics of the church as we stand in judgment over it.

The church is about God’s truth, God’s people, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and fellowshiping with sinners who have been saved by grace. The treasure of the church isn’t in the sterling people who compose the membership and wave the right flags. The treasure of the church is Jesus Christ himself, as he comes to us in the gospel (2 Cor. 4:3-7). The people in the church are clay pots, earthen vessels, weak, frail, fragile sinners. That’s all of us. Wish-dreamers are always focused on trying to improve the clay by reshaping the clay into their wish-dreams.

Why We Have Wish-Dreams

Obviously Bonhoeffer didn't mean biblical standards are wish-dreams. He was talking about our non-biblical expectations of others and thus of the church. When we expect the church to be “the fellowship of the pious” we have a wish-dream. When we expect the church to trumpet our personal causes, then we have a wish-dream. If we are put off because there are sinful people in our church whose clay is showing, then we have a wish-dream.

Wish-dreamers forget that the church is built on the gospel of the cross and that gospel is for people who really know themselves to be sinners. Wish-dreamers see themselves as having their act together because they . . . [fill in the blank] . . . and expect the church to follow suit. Wish-dreamers see themselves as sinners only in their creed, but not in reality. When we see ourselves as desperate sinners in need of the grace of Christ, it changes the way we look at others, what we expect of others, and what we want the church to be. Wish-dreamers are concerned about certain sins, but not others. They are great labelers of people. They are always looking for a church with better clay.

But the wish-dreamer forgets that we live in community with one another for a reason. As Bonhoeffer reminds us later, “He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone.” To be alone, to withdraw from the body because our wish-dreams have been challenged or smashed, is to end up alone in our sin. When we are together, we are together in him, in his gospel. We can minister to each other and love each other as fellow sinners.

The gospel is glorious when clay remembers it is clay and treasures the true Treasure.


Brian Borgman (DMin, Westminster Seminary) is founding and senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Minden, Nevada. He is the author of My Heart for Thy Cause: Albert N. Martin’s Theology of Preaching (Mentor, 2001), Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life (Crossway, 2009), and Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical and Balanced Perspective (Reformation Heritage, 2014).  The article was originally posted on The Gospel Coalition.