Loving Others Is a Big Deal

I keep thinking about that title of the message this past Sunday over and over again.  Everyone is a “Big Deal” to God therefore everyone should be a “Big” deal to us.  The message has motivated me to look at my life and ask myself,  “Does my way of life reflect that people I come in contact with are a big deal?”

To love others effectively we have to first believe God loves us! I love what  1 John 4:11 TPT  say,  “Delightfully loved ones, if he loved us with such tremendous love, then, “loving one another” should be our way of life.”

Our motivation to love comes when we truly know we are completely known by God and completely loved by God!  You don’t have to earn it, you just have to receive it!  Let this be settled in our hearts so we can truly experience an exciting life by giving this kind of love to those in our spheres of influence!  You are a Big Deal to God therefore let those around you become a Big deal to you!

In his book, Everybody Always, which I highly recommend, Bob Goff says, “God’s idea isn’t that we would just give and receive love but that we would actually become love.”

There are 3 things we can do to “become love” in someone’s life: TIME, WORDS and ACTIONS.

1. TIME:

People won’t be a big deal to us if we don’t spend time with them.  Just like we can’t catch something contagious if we aren’t around someone who is sick , our faith won’t be contagious if we aren’t around others.  We love when we make time for those God puts on our paths.  You can invite someone along to coffee or to shop at Target, plan an activity together or simply pick up the phone and ask questions to find out how that person is doing.

2. WORDS:

Goff also says in his book that, ‘People don’t want to be told what they want. We need to tell them who they are!”  Those we come in contact with know who they are NOT but when we tell them who they ARE they will want to be around us!  Everyone is valuable to God, loved, precious, significant. When we affirm that in others, they experience love. When we believe what God tells us about ourselves, we are able to tell others what God says about them.

3. ACTIONS:

One of the best ways to show you love someone is to do something for them.  Maybe someone in your life just had a baby, and you could offer to babysit or bring a meal. Maybe they arrive at work early and you could drop off a coffee for them. Listen to what they say and you will know what they need.  Your action may open them up to the love of God!

Join me in making people a Big Deal and watch how our lives will become more rewarding and fulfilling!

XO,

Becky

Keys to a Lasting Marriage

February 14th is right around the corner.  This is the day we choose to celebrate love.  Everyone want to experience romantic love, but not everyone wants to put in the effort it takes to turn one day a year into a lifetime of investment and caring for the person we chose to marry.  Many young couples are willing to put energy into preparing for the Wedding Day, but put little thought and preparation into the lifetime of marriage.  If I’m honest, my first years of marriage to Jude  were difficult simply because we didn’t spend the time and energy necessary to prepare for our marriage.  We went from being friends to being engaged and married three months later!  Jude proposed to me over the phone and I was the one who called him!  A lot of what we learned about marriage was from watching other couples in our lives who seemed to make marriage look so easy.  Well, we have now been married 31 years and have been through every season a married couple will face and we are still together by the grace of God. Sometimes marriage seems like a piece of cake, full of amazing memories and laughter and other times we have to “fight for what’s left.”  

When you have been married 31 years, other couples always ask, “What is the secret to having a lasting marriage?”  Here are a few things I have learned over the years, that may be helpful as you pursue your dream of a happy marriage that lasts a lifetime:

Remember Marriage is a COVENANT NOT a CONTRACT:

Matthew 19:6 ESV “So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.”

For Jesus followers, marriage is about God joining us together. We make an eternal commitment before Him to LOVE our husbands. If we look at our marriage as a conditional agreement, and our spouses fail at something, we want to break the contract. But God offers us His “overwhelming, never-failing, reckless,” covenant love to draw from. The Bible is a love story in itself, one in which we broke the contract, and culminating in a beautiful marriage celebration as we, the church, become His bride. When we receive the undeserved love and forgiveness of Jesus, He fills us with the power of HIs Holy Spirit to love our husbands without keeping score. When we make the decision to grow old together, we don’t make quitting an option, knowing that God is able to help us in every area of weakness.

Be Grateful for the Marriage God gave you!

I Peter 3:7 “Husbands, you must in turn treat your wives with tenderness, viewing them as feminine partners who deserve to be honored, for they are CO HEIRS with you of the  “divine grace of life” so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

Our marriages are a gift from God. We must view our marriages as an “inheritance” or “gift” to be cherished rather than something we are owed.  Think about it, when we work for something we “expect” to get paid.  If we won a lotto ticket or got an unexpected Inheritance we would be grateful for what we received.  Remember, our husbands chose to love us and be committed to us unconditionally. Is there any greater gift one human being could give to another? I encourage you to be thankful for your spouse because he is a gift to you.

Remember we are better together.  Fight FOR one another not against one another!  

Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one because they help each other succeed” NLT

It’s so important to  reflect on the value that our husbands bring to our marriages.  Your husband may be very different from you. Jude is certainly very different from me! Sometimes it’s easier for us to value only the qualities we work to have but countless studies have shown that teams whose players have diverse gifts always have increased effectiveness.  As we make a decision to stop and appreciate the gifts, talents and perspective that our husbands have, we will end finding better success together.  We will often discover better ways of doing things that would have never occurred to us! Remember you started this race with the same vision. You are on the same team going in the same direction trying to accomplish the same goals.  

Remember, everyone has struggles in their marriage but marriages are worth fighting for!  If you are in a desperate place, if you have experienced the heart break of divorce, God sees you and loves you. Please don’t feel you have to fight or figure it out alone. Our church is full of people with beautiful stories of God redeeming the ugliest moments of strife and disagreement into redemptive and joyful and lasting love. This is our year of believing BIG and God is able to do a big miracle in your life and in your marriage. Join a City Group, attend our XO marriage conference in March, reach out to a pastor or City Group leader. We are here to help! Let’s choose to celebrate love and marriage all year long!

I believe in you!

XO

Becky Fouquier

 

Believing BIG in 2018

The theme this year for our church is one simple word, BIG.  I love what Pastor Jude says: We think BIG so we can believe BIG, so that we will live BIG.  We serve an incredibly BIG God. I love the scripture Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord.  ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you can imagine.  For just as the heaven are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.’”

Our lives are going to be BIG this year as we tune our ears into God’s thoughts.  I love the verse before this passage, Isaiah 55:3, “Come to me with your ears wide open.  Listen and you will find life!”

Let’s tap into God’s thoughts so we can see BIG things happen. Let’s open our ears wide to listen to Him and obey whatever He tells us to do even if it sounds ridiculous and beyond our own ability!  This is where BIG happens!  Think of Noah in the Bible, God had asked him to build a boat and even gave him specific instructions how to do it.  This doesn’t seem like anything unusual because we see boats everyday.  But Noah had never seen a boat, or even rain, before!! It says about Noah in Hebrews 11:7 TPT, “Faith opened Noah’s heart to receive revelation and warnings from God about what was coming, even things that had never been seen!  But he stepped out in reverent obedience to God and built an ark that would save him and his family”

On the mantle of my fireplace is a sign my friend Lisa gave me that says, “Pray Big.”  Everyday when I wake up, this reminds me to not just pray small, safe prayers but to believe for BIG things!

My challenge for all of us this year to see BIG is to :

  1. Open our ears wide to listen to God.  Let’s walk with God closer by taking the time to not just list our prayer request but to listen for instructions from God.  Maybe He will ask you to do something that’s never been done like He did with Noah!
  2. Obey whatever He tells you.  Big things don’t happen until we activate what God is telling us to do!

One of the ways we can begin to see BIG things this year is to rehearse the BIG things God has done for us in the past!  As we go on this journey together, we are going to take the time to share more of the miracles God has done in our lives so that we can be motivated to believe for BIG things!

The following is a story of faith from my own life that I hope will stir you to listen and obey God even more.

January, 1992

Jude and I were living in Springfield, Missouri and I had a two year old and six month old.  Life was really good and easy for us there.  Our church loved us as their youth pastors.  It seemed like everything we touched turned to gold.  Exciting things were happening among the families of our church because of the youth ministry.  I had amazing friends and the cost of living was so cheap!  We had bought our first home here.  It was a brand new home that we paid $66K for.  Our house payment, including taxes and insurance, was $550.00 per month!  I remember thinking, “How can afford this?”  Ha!  Those were the days!

I could have stayed there forever and had a fun, easy life.  But, as Jude and I began to seek God about the new year, He began to nudge us to step out in faith to do something we had never done before.  One day, after an amazing youth service the previous night, Pastor Wendell Smith called us about the possibility of helping him start a church in Seattle, Washington.  We had never been to Seattle and barely knew Pastor Wendell.  We had only been with him a few times but God dropped the thought into our hearts that one day we would work with him.

As we began to “open our ears” like Isaiah 55:3 said, we began to tap into God’s thoughts and God’s ways.  I remember saying to God,  “If this is you, don’t just speak to my husband but speak to me.”  You see, in the natural it would have been a stupid move because we were not promised a job and the cost of living was double what we were paying.  We had built success in seven years of pastoring and this move would mean starting all over again.  All of our pastor friends thought we were crazy to even consider it!

God began to speak this thought to me, “You can either be comfortable or you can trust me and obey me and you will truly find your life.”

Once again, I was moved as I read my Bible in Proverbs 1:20-21 ESV: “Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets SHE raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:

This scripture confirmed to me that it was the will of God to leave all and move across the country by faith.  I know this scripture seems obscure and, at the time, I wasn’t sure what it all meant. I just knew that this was one of the same scriptures God had given Pastor Wendell and Gini to confirm that they were supposed to start the church.

Looking back on this scripture over 20 years later, I realize that one of the BIG miracles I received in Seattle was healing from stuttering.  It was the first place I was able to speak for God.  Wow, God thoughts are higher than our thoughts!  He knew what His plan was for me and, as we stepped out and sold everything we had, I saw a BIG answer to my prayers.

Our church here, in Southern California, is full of people with countless stories of God’s faithfulness. As we go on this journey together, it is my hope to both hear and share more of the BIG things that God has done in our lives.

In fact, as we enter a season of 21 days of prayer and fasting on Monday, January 8th, let’s believe together for God to do more BIG things. I would love for you to take a minute and write, in the comment section* below, something BIG that you are believing for this year. I want to believe with you! Let’s pray for each other and celebrate His faithfulness as He answers us and takes us into another amazing year!

Here’s to BIG things in 2018!

XO,

Pastor Becky

*If you don’t see the comment section below, click on the title of this post so that it will open as it’s own page. From there you should be able to comment as well as share on your own social media accounts.

Ventura Fires: How Can I Help?

Monday night was a life changing moment for so many people in our community.  The stories that I have personally heard have been heart wrenching for me.  One of the families in our church has three little kids and had only three minutes to evacuate.  They left with nothing more than their lives and the clothes on their back.  As a pastor the weight of how we can help our community became a little overwhelming.  I stood in my closet whispering the prayer, “Lord, now is the time for the church to be your hands and feet.  Give us wisdom in all that you have called us to do.”  I know many of you feel the same way.  You want to do all you can to make a difference.

Here are some practical things we can all do:

Pray:  Prayer is the best thing we can do. Pray specifically for the following:

  • 100 % containment of all the fires
  • Wind will cease
  • Every need of those displaced will be met
  • Salvation for those who need Christ, that He would be their comforter
  • Wisdom for the church in all that we can do
  • Join our Thursday night prayer meeting tonight, December 7th from 6-7pm at both our Ventura and Agoura campuses.

Give:

  • Give tax deductable donation by texting ‘thecity’ to 77977  or visit our website
  • Give to the giving tree this Sunday, we are collecting gift cards to either purchase gifts for displaced kids and single parent homes.  Suggested places to buy gift cards to are Target, Walmart, Visa Gift cards, etc
  • Funds for individual families you may know have been set up online. You can access these via social media

Love: 

  • Volunteer to distribute necessities through the church. Join the team by helping at shelters with the Red Cross here or helping receive and distribute supplies with the City Church here.
  • Be available to open up your home for those in mandatory evacuation.
  • Reach out to neighbors and people at church who are affected by the fires.
  • Invite people to church so that they can come in contact with the presence of God and we can surround them in love and provide any supplies they may need.

I believe God calls the church to be an unstoppable force for help and good in times of tragedy. Let’s come together to be the fragrance of God to our community!

2 Corinthians 2:14 “God makes his grace visible in Christ who includes us as partners of his endless triumph.  Through our yielded lives he spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere we go”

Thank you for loving our City!

Becky Fouquier

Raising Kids

I can’t believe how fast time flies!  I just turned 53 in October and all three of my boys came for Thanksgiving with their amazing wives and my incredible grandson, Jack. We now have another grandson on the way, thanks to Jake and Nancy.  Their baby is due May 13th, two days after Jack’s 2nd birthday.  Oh does that bring back memories!  All three of my boys were born two years apart and boy was it a whirlwind!  One of the most memorable, overwhelming moments of being a mom was when my oldest son Jude was four, Jonathan was two and Jake was just an infant.  Jude was climbing on my back, Jon was pulling on my leg, Jake was wanting to nurse and my husband was wanting me in the bedroom (if you know what I mean ;).  I was thinking to myself, “Is my body not my own?”

I remember feeling so overwhelmed in this season of my life.  It could be so easy to just “get by,” on a daily basis but I had to stop and remind myself that this season would pass quickly. If I was going to be effective, I had to remember I was called by God to steward the lives of these three young men who had a purpose and a call before time began.  This became a reality to me when I was in the hospital right after I had my 2nd son, Jonathan.  I had this moment with God where He impressed on me this thought, “You don’t know who you have in this son, raise him well.”  Wow, it sobered me to think of the responsibility God graced me with to raise these young men of destiny.

If you are a parent, an aunt, a teacher, or even a friend to someone who has kids, you have the same privilege and opportunity to help nurture the destiny of a young human being with a divine purpose. If you are a mom, you don’t have to wonder if you have what it takes, God chose you to be the mother of that child and He will give you what you need to accomplish the task.

Every time I felt overwhelmed with the chaos of kids and wanted to react negatively toward them, I would remember this moment in the hospital.  Trust me, I needed that reminder because Jon was a very difficult, sensitive child that needed his mom to be patient with him.

The three boys are now all in the ministry with families of their own and doing well.  People often asked Jude and I how we raised three boys who love God, love His church and are doing what God called them to do. Like everything in life, we committed our children first to the Lord.

Proverbs 22:6 (TPT) was one of our guiding verses:

“Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way that they should go, and the values they learned from YOU will be with them for life.”

The Amplified version says;

“Train up a child in the way he should go (teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents}, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

I believe these three keys can help you to be an effective parent:

  1. “Dedicate your child to God.”
  • This is not a one-time dedication, this is recognizing they are not our kids; they are God’s and we just have the privilege of being a picture of God to them!
  • Ask yourself, “Who would my child say God is by looking at my life on a daily basis?  Is he kind? Is he consistent? Is God attractive to my child?”
  1. “Point them in the way that they should go.”
  • We must teach our children that God is their source of wisdom and will. If they see us believing God, becoming who God calls us to be and building His kingdom, it will inspire faith in them.
  • One of my favorite thoughts from the recent parenting series is that our children are “seed full.”  They are full of potential that God has placed in them and our job is to help identify what is in them and help them nurture and begin to discover who they are and what God has called them to.  We water the seeds with our words and by teaching them to seek God for themselves.
  1. “The values they learn from you will be with them for life.”
  • Our children will not just learn from what we tell them but will learn more by how we live out our values.
  • The most effective thing you can do as a parent is to live what you want them to be! Live your life in such a contagious way that it would be hard for them to choose a less than satisfying life!

Trust me when I say, there are so many things I would have done differently as a parent. The next time I post on parenting I will tell you those things but today I pray that you will stop in the midst of day to day living and remember, you have been called and graced by God to parent your amazing children. We do our best to point them in the right direction, and even though the choice is ultimately theirs, we can trust our Heavenly Father to help us all along the way.

I believe in you!

XO

Becky

The Outcome

“And we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan to bring something good into our lives, for we are his lovers who are invited to fulfill his designed purpose. ²⁹For he knew us and loved us before we were born and destined us from the beginning to share the likeness of his Son, making the Son the firstborn among many who will become just like him.”

Romans 8:28-29 TPT

Our church has been in the “Super 8” series this past few weeks. As we have been studying Romans 8,  I keep coming back to one of my favorite scriptures in this chapter, verse 28.  When I think back on many big breakthrough moments in my own journey, I can remember quoting this scripture after the fact.  It’s always easier to believe what God says about a situation after we’ve seen it work out in a positive way.

Did you watch any of the World Series? Wow! What a nail-biter. Game 5 in Houston was particularly intense. The game went on for over five hours and every time the Dodgers scored, the Astros would come from behind. Finally, after midnight in the bottom of the 10th inning, Houston scored a run to beat the Dodgers 13-12. As a fan, this game was exhausting because no team seemed to have a clear lead. The outcome was never obvious. We just had to sit and wait to see what would happen!

When we are in the midst of tough chapters in our story, it’s easy to think that our lives are somehow like this baseball game, too close to rest, a bad thing right around the corner from every good thing, not knowing how it’s going to end up. Sometimes we can’t figure out how a circumstance could possibly come out for good. We can easily begin to feel anxious, stressed out and irritable.  

But the life of someone who believes in Jesus is not like a competitive game, not even close. God has shared with us the beginning AND the end. Jesus went to the cross, rose from the grave and defeated the power of sin and death in our lives once and for all. I love what this verse says in the Passion Translation above, that every detail of our lives is woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan and it is going to bring good no matter what!  He’s already won the game and we can rest in that fact. How? The key to all this is that we are His lovers!

When we are madly in love with someone, our default mode is to trust that they would never do anything to harm us. That is because we are designed to find our ultimate source of love in Jesus, the only perfect lover of our soul who will always be good to us even if things look bad.  When we search for this type of perfect love in other people, it can disappoint because we’re all so flawed. But, when we place our trust in His unfailing love, no matter what is happening in our life, and set our mind on Jesus and not our problem, we can have peace in the midst of any difficulty and trial.   I love what Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all you trust you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!  TRUST IN THE LORD ALWAYS, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock!”

I want to encourage you today that you are loved by God and you will fulfill every purpose of your life.  What is the ultimate purpose of your life?  The ultimate purpose is to know Jesus and reflect who Jesus is!  If you don’t know Him yet, that’s okay! He knows you and is ready to talk as soon as you are. If you have questions about Jesus, we’re here to help answer them any way we can. Come to one of our gatherings on a Sunday or City Groups. Be encouraged that your story will show others in your life that God is bigger than anything they face.  

Just as you are blessed by the beautiful stories in this blog, know that God can bless others with your story just as much and more!

XO,

Becky

Women of Influence

One of my  favorite things in life is to get to know people and hear their stories.   I think this is because each unique journey inspires me to believe God for all of  the wonderful things he is able to do in my own life.  That is why I am so excited about the Beautiful Stories blog.  It will enable us to share the incredible stories of our community and be inspired to be the women of influence that God has called us to be.  

We are all women of influence that have a valuable part to play in affecting the world around us. “Influence” is such a catch phrase for this generation and many recognize the opportunity to influence others through social media, in fields of fashion, entrepreneurship, and the like.  My heart is that the women of City Church really understand that we have a powerful influence over everyone in our spheres: in the church, in our homes, in our work or in our neighborhoods.  Because we are followers of Jesus, who we are, what we believe, what we say, and how we respond when things are difficult can affect how those around us view God.  Wow, what a sobering thought!

We can use our influence to reveal the goodness and greatness of God by just being honest about His work in our own lives. God knows that none of the people in the Bible were perfect ( other than Jesus), and neither are we! But when we believe in His goodness, He works in our lives to help us become more like him, giving us power and ability to do what we could never do on our own. We get to participate in building up people, families, and our community (the church!) where everyone is welcome to experience Him.

Our passion is that you, and every woman, would fulfill the purpose of God in your own life and sphere of influence. The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)  that “God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another!” We each have a very important part to play, no part more significant than the other, in making Jesus famous.

I hope these stories of faith and the goodness of God will inspire you to say yes to fulfilling your purpose through God, and that your story would be woven into the great story of what God is doing in our city, nation, and the nations of this earth.

xoxo

Becky  

Pastor Becky 1

Becky Fouquier and her husband, Jude, are the Lead Pastors of The City Church in Ventura and Agoura, CA.  At her core, Becky is an evangelist who truly loves people.  She has a passion to see people believe in God, become who God calls them to be, and build the local church. Becky has a strong conviction that this type of discipleship happens when we do life together in groups. You can see her any Sunday loving on everyone who walks into the church. Becky loves hiking, biking and working out with her husband. She is the mother of 3 young men who are all pastors and are married to incredible young women. Her biggest obsession is her grandson, Jack Louis Boone.