Just for Fun!

A few shots of a recent walk-thru:

Brian headed into Grace Kids!
“Hospitable with the Gospel”
Love this view. “Flagstaff needs Jesus and Grace needs a home”
Thanks for praying with us for this project and the continued ministry of Grace in Flag!

For Such a Time as This

Anyone familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures knows well this phrase. It certainly makes for a great sermon title. I recall early on in the pandemic we were doing outdoor services and I did a short series on “Now More than Ever”. As I prepared that series I soon realized it’s a topic and theme that are timeless and necessary. We all live only in the moments we have and want to be purposeful about getting the right things right. The same is said of Mordecai’s words from Esther 4:13-14.

Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

This evening, March 16th is the start of the one day celebration of Purim. This is the Jewish holiday remembering and celebrating God’s deliverance of His people through the prompting of Mordecai to encourage Esther to go before the King with the news of Haman’s wicked plot. Esther knew what it might cost her, which in turn prompted Mordecai’s famous challenge.

For those who are following the teaching at Grace, we are finishing up a study of Ezra and Nehemiah. Interestingly there is overlap in the stories with the timeline of Esther. It is not specifically stated in the scriptures, but tradition gives us cause to wonder if Nehemiah’s request of the Persian King was granted in part by the influence of Esther’s story just a few years prior. Same city. Same family dynasty. We won’t speculate too much on that, but there’s nothing wrong with wondering about the potential impact. What we do know is that the people (Jewish people still in exile) were spared and given a celebration in place of a mass memorial. Just a few years later, the people were encouraged to return from a place of exile to a home with expectation.

Is the Lord leading you to stand up, speak up, to sit up and lean in towards something that may in fact turn out bigger than you realize?

Today, the Lord dwells within His people. His work is our work. Our identity isn’t found in how well we do that work, but rather in the gracious gift of the Holy Spirit living and working within us. It is Christ in me that causes me to lean in and say, “Yes Lord, I’m all in. For such a time as this, You made me, loved me, and have empowered me to do Your will for Your great glory. Let’s celebrate God’s faithfulness to His people then and now as we remember the remarkable story of Esther.

Progress

Just a couple of pictures from our new church campus site. Along with the guys getting the walls up, I noticed the HVAC team inside installing vents and all the goodness of HVAC. Good stuff. These guys were hustling as the weather was coming in for this afternoon’s snow. Which has now arrived!

March 1 Updates

Who chose that generic title? The thing about a blog is everyone can see how lame the author is in not posting for months at a time. I honestly think of updating with an occasional idea, but then a squirrel runs by and I can’t remember what day it is.

Here are some updates: All great, by the way!

Yesterday our school district followed CDC guidelines and REMOVED the mask mandate for Flagstaff schools! For this I am so thankful. It communicates a few key ideas: The pandemic seems to be slowing. The metrics are going in the right direction. Many people can return to in-person community that have been unable to join us at Sinagua for a variety of reasons related to masks. Everyone is welcome! For those desiring to wear a mask, please do so. We’ll continue to make masks available as it is still recommended. Remember, always be gracious towards each other. However, no longer a mandate!

This Sunday, at Grace we’ll give the total of our recent ALL IN: Refresh. It’s pretty great news. If you missed Sunday, go online to catch the service. You can also go here to renew or make a first time pledge towards our new church campus through ALL IN.

Plan on staying after church this Sunday and support the Indian Bible College as they prepare “Indigenous Tacos”. They are raising funds for a missions trip and we can help while enjoying a great meal together. Let’s blow them away with our typical Grace Generosity!

Enjoy a few shots over the past couple of weeks. More to come…

Snow was welcomed in Flagstaff last week, and it barely held back the work. Though snow is necessary in the mountains, the milder winter has been somewhat helpful for the project. (think: glass half-full)

It’s like a time-out for your mouth

As we work our way through a Proverbs-a-day I hope you’re beginning to realize the benefits. If you’re just getting started, read today’s Proverb (along with any other regular reading you enjoy) and ask the Lord to give you wisdom from His Word for today.

The goal is to learn from God, to start the day with some quiet and give yourself permission to listen to legit wisdom.

If you have been foolish in exalting yourself

Or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth. Pro 30:32

You don’t need to wait until you’ve foolishly exalted yourself or set out to plot the evil. Maybe by rehearsing this verse in your heart and mind, you can catch it before it becomes necessary. Wisdom doesn’t say ‘never speak up’. Wisdom knows the times we need to give our mouth, or keyboard, a time-out.

Have a great day. Even if it’s a little quieter.

Proverbs each day

This morning I challenged our church family to commit to reading one chapter from Proverbs each day, as it correlates with the day of the month. This is not a new idea. I’m sure I’ve talked about it plenty of times before. Today is August 15, so the reading is Proverbs 15.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. Pro 15:1

For those joining me in this challenge. Here are a few tips from my experience in reading a Proverb each day:

  1. Take your time. It’s not about how fast I can get through the days reading.
  2. I like to highlight. Honestly, for a few years I’ve done most of my reading on my ipad. Logos is easy to use and has fascinating highlighting options. Or simply highlight in whatever app you use or better, in your real paper Bible! The reason is because over the years I find myself rereading these passages. New things jump out all the time. Often it’s where I’m at in my life that helps me “listen for” and hear what God is saying through His word.
  3. Keep going. Don’t make a big deal if you miss a day or two or five. Don’t try to make up. Just read the chapter for that day.
  4. Not everyone wants to journal, I’ve learned it’s a great discipline for me. Simply write out a key verse and a thought or prayer. Don’t worry about your writing, just keep doing it, you’ll find your groove. Maybe you simply want to recall one idea or word that is especially helpful to you on that day. Whether you journal or write a highlight online, share it somehow. Maybe I could encourage ‘comments’ on this page for those that want to do this together.

Now, for Chapter 15. I have a bunch of highlights already. This very first verse speaks so closely with what I preached about today. You know, I always have a choice in how I respond, and a gentle answer always wins. Having this verse in my head throughout the day can only be helpful.

As mentioned in church, one of the benefits of a church reading Proverbs together is we may actually see a rise in the wisdom meter for our church and community!

To God be the Glory!

Pastor Mark

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Pr 15:1.

Back to School

Here we go. I’m pretty sure there is no one in our city, ok, in the entire world, that is feeling normal about anything. Back to school is this whole thing. And for many, it’s exciting. Excitement about all the new: new teachers, new supplies, new clothes, new routines, new learning. Fall is supposed to feel like we’re ‘back at it’ after the summer break. Clearly this year is oddly different.

I’m watching all the social media posts of kids going back to school, in creative fun ways. My niece posted one of the best:

Moms and dads, families, students: You got this!

I just want you to know, I’m praying for each of you families as I see your posts about school starting (this week and over the past couple of weeks).

Teachers and everyone in education! You also face challenges you didn’t exactly sign up for. But as the kids and families work to make it all happen, we know you also will make it.

There’s clearly a broad spectrum of how education is happening right now. Let’s encourage one another and pray for one another as we see the Day approaching and as we get through this season that the Lord Jesus is fully aware of. Heb 10:24-25

He’s got you right where you are. Trust Him and live fully in the moment.

Think of someone you can reach out to today and encourage. Pray for them, perhaps send a quick text or even a coffee gift card. Let’s hold each other up. It’s what we do best.

The Prayer.

Some faith traditions recite it.

Some memorized it as kids.

Most pastors have taught it, at least once.

Sometimes it seems like a good “go-to” when you don’t really know what else to pray.

The Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ most famous teaching on prayer is sometimes called The Disciple’s Prayer.

The variation of name is due to Jesus actually teaching the disciples how to pray. That would include us. Perhaps the Lord’s prayer would then be best described in John 17, or even His brief prayer in the Garden. For now, we’ll agree that what we know as the Lord’s Prayer given in the Sermon on the Mount serves us as a model for praying today.

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’.

NASU (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mt 6:9–13.

It’s good to read and re-read. It’s great to think on and even memorize.

One good exercise is to say each phrase and pause. Pause for as long as you’d like. Think about that one phrase and the realities of it. Think of His words for us as going back to Him for His glory and for our good. Go ahead. Give it a try. Don’t be in a rush. It’s especially helpful if you’re out on a walk, run, row or just swinging in your hammock.

I’d love to hear from you how it went. Comment below. Even if you don’t, I hope you’ll be blessed. PM