“Grab a Corner”

And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.  And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Mark 2:3-5

Jesus wants us to let others know about Him.  Resurrection Sunday, and really every single Sunday, is a great opportunity to invite people to come and see who Jesus is and what He’s done for them. In Sunday’s message, four people had faith and they acted on that faith to do the unusual so a man could be both forgiven and healed. As I understand the passage, the paralytic wanted to see Jesus, probably for the healing. I wonder if the forgiveness was unexpected.  Sometimes God asks us to do the unusual so the unexpected can happen. And sometimes He calls us to do it together with others. Personal evangelism is more of a team sport than we think it is. Most of us don’t do a great job with evangelism because we erroneously think it’s all up to us. The church and the work of the church is a team event. None of us are meant to go this alone. Can you imagine just one of the four friends trying to do what the four eventually had to do?

So, who is our team? Well, it’s me, it’s you, it’s our church. I believe it’s a work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  As you pray to the Father for your unsaved and unchurched friends, ask the Holy Spirit to help you and to show you the opportunities to invite and to encourage.  Join me and simply grab one of the corners of the mat. It’s NOT all up to you.  Salvation is God’s work. Jesus accomplished it on the cross, and now the Holy Spirit is convicting.  Let’s do this together, with each other, joining our church family and seeing what God will do.  When we only do the usual, we get the expected. Let’s ask God for more. Let’s be willing to do the unusual so we can experience the unexpected!

Standing Together

No one stands alone.  Grace Community is a pretty awesome church with a great history and an even greater future.

Today, is August 1st and serves to remind me that Pastor Jason Goodman and his awesome family joined us one year ago today.  We are blessed to have a Worship Pastor and the many things he does to help the team. I was reminded also that in just a few days Pastor Bob and Tami celebrate 10 years at Grace.  Pastor Bob started GSM while  also giving pastoral oversight to our Children’s ministry.  Along with being a close Associate for me, he most recently has developed and implemented our Discipleship ministry.  Tim Serrano joined our team as an intern 4 years ago this month. He now is the Director for all our Student Ministries, and doing an amazing job!  So, it looks like August is a good month to celebrate this beautiful team I get to work with in serving Grace.

Tami serves us in the front office and oversees most office needs.  Paula is our newest addition, she serves as our Children’s Ministry Director and Ministry Assistant for me.

So, you can see none of us stands alone.  You that are a part of the Grace Community family, pray for your staff and go ahead and encourage them when you get a chance.  I know I will!

Drawing Near

This past Sunday to finish the 2012 year at Grace, I spoke on Praise and Prayer.  The key idea came from 1 Peter 1:3-9, and especially 6-7:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

We also spent some time looking at James 1:2-8, then we finished with James 4, especially vs 8:

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

The main idea was that our praise to God comes from a closeness to Him and His purposes in our life. Praise doesn’t come only through “blessings” that we enjoy and give thanks for.  Praise is knowing God. Praise is the result of being near Him and growing in our understanding of Him.

The challenge was put out to find some time this week to “draw near to God”.  Because the result is what we long for, as a church family, but just as much as individual members, “and He will draw near to you!”

Perhaps 2012 will be remembered for some serious pain or disappointments, or maybe it was a banner year. Regardless, we praise Him because of HIM.  I want to be in that process of drawing near Him because I want to know His presence in my life, His nearness, His ‘praise-worthiness’ regardless of the situation.  I want to know God and His ever-present, always comforting, power-infusing nearness.

Let’s meet up @ God’s house

This has been a difficult week at best.  There is so much to process.

Today, go to church. Go where God’s people are going to gather under His banner of love and truth, grace and mercy.  We don’t just worship and submit to Him in the best of times, we follow and trust and obey and worship, even in the worst of times.

Going to where God has called us to gather, is what God has invited and initiated among us. His church is His idea. It’s where we gather to worship Him, to grow in knowledge and understanding of Him, and to encourage one another because of Him.  Today, as much as ever, we need to worship Him, to grow in our knowledge and understanding, and we need to encourage one another. Don’t sit this one out.

It’s going to be a beautiful day here in Flagstaff. Cold, but beautiful. The 20″ of snow is sitting heavy on the branches and today promises clear skies.

Being with the church is where I want to be.  I’m getting ready to go.  Join me.

Simply Ask

At Grace we’re learning about “Intersections” from our study in Acts. Last Sunday, Philip met a man from Ethiopia at an intersection. This coming Sunday an angry, hate-filled Saul will meet the Lord at an intersection.

When we trust God to lead us to the intersections, we can know He’s bringing someone else there too.  Living on mission means that we know God has us and He’s put us right where He has for a purpose, a season, even just a moment.

Who is in your intersection right now? A neighbor, a friend, family member?  Ask them to join you. Bring them into what God has blessed you with. Simply ask.

This week Grace is hosting the largest BBQ picnic in our history!  Right after our regular church service, we’ll head out to the fields at Sinagua (you can’t miss the huge tent!).  It’ll be awesome to hang out and enjoy some good food. Best part will be to meet people who came because someone simply asked them to come!

New Staff @ Grace

Welcome Jason, Nicole, Hannah, Nicholas and Tyler Goodman

We are blessed to have Jason Goodman join the team as our Worship Pastor. Jason and Nicole have been married 13 years and now have 3 kids.  Jason served on the pastoral staff at a church in Tennessee before going to Colorado Springs to attend the New Life School of Worship.  We are looking forward to welcoming this family to Flagstaff and to Grace the first of August. Yep, that’s next week!

Serving Sinagua

Tomorrow our church is taking a portion of our normal worship service to serve the school that we have been meeting in for almost 18 years.  It’s amazing to me to think of how long God has allowed us to meet in this place.

As I was preparing for my message tomorrow, I was reminded that as we serve the school tomorrow we’re serving God and people. Sinagua is not a building. It’s people. Many of them may not be followers of Jesus, but they are people He created. People He loves.  So, we’ll be serving Him and His purposes by taking some time to wipe down some shelves, move some desks and do some clean up work.  I can’t wait.

If you’re a Gracer, here’s the plan for tomorrow:

Come to church and get a good seat. I suggest 9:50.  It’ll be packed tomorrow. There is no children’s ministry or nursery. EVERYONE will be together for our worship and teaching and serving! We will shorten the service significantly so we can jump right in and get to work on some basic projects around the school. We will then gather and finish our time together with lunch.

  • Come at 9:50
  • Everyone will be together in the service
  • Wear your work clothes
  • Worship will start right @ 10
  • I’ll be teaching a brief message
  • 10:35 we will be getting to our projects
  • There is something for everyone!
  • You will be encouraged to work together as a family
  • Lunch will be awesome, as always.
What a great way to serve God!  We get to bless Sinagua (remember, Sinagua is people, not a building!) And we get to work together, side by side, getting to know others in our church.

Entrusted with the Gospel

Yesterday was our “Vision Update” Sunday.  On Jan 1, I talked specifics about Grace Community Church and what I believed God was leading us to do during this year.  Yesterday was exactly 6 months, so it was a good time for an update.

I am so excited for the plans God has for Grace Church.  It’s hard to put into a few words on this page all that is happening and the why of it all. Let me jump to the end. I ended with a brief picture of Paul writing to Timothy at the end of his first letter. Paul had just worded a ‘charge’ if you will, kind of a call to arms, “O man of God…fight the good fight of faith.”  Then he closes in verse 20 with “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you.”

I can’t go into all of it here, but you can listen if you’d like on our website, and you could even skip to the last part like maybe the 41 minute mark (how’s that, a pastor saying skip to the end!)

Not unlike Timothy, we too have had the gospel entrusted to us to carry on and carry out. I don’t know where we got the notion that this was an option. It’s a command, a commission, it’s a way of life. A way of life that says, “there’s nothing in the world more important than receiving what God has for me and then living a life in response to that gift of grace and passing it on to others.”

Give Thanks through Resurrection Sunday

Ps 107:1-3,8

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble

3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.

8  Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of men!

A few weeks ago I spoke on the passage in Luke where Jesus healed ten lepers and only one came back to say thanks.  In yet another creative fashion to teach his onlooking disciples  he asked about the other nine.  I’m pretty sure He wanted us to know that He noticed.  The text doesn’t tell us much more about the other nine, so no need to speculate.

One of the principles I gained from that account was that Jesus notices our praise.  Psalm 103 and 107 give us great examples of ‘blessing the Lord’ for Who He is and all that He has done.

In that light, I challenged our church to come back and give God praise for all He is doing and for Who He is!  How often do we pray and ask for something, only to forget to come back and acknowledge that the answer in fact came from God?  Or how many things could you think of in the next 30 seconds that you are very grateful for, but haven’t mentioned it in a long time.

On April 8th we’ll celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus like we do each and every week.  With it being such a significant day in the life of our church, I asked our church to intentionally come back and give God thanks each and everyday up through Resurrection Sunday.  Or, Thanks To (until) Resurrection Sunday, thus #T2RS

So, go ahead. Start now. Use facebook, twitter, your email, IM, or write it on a note, in a letter, but tell someone about what God is doing and for what you are giving Him thanks.

Feel free to use the comment section here.

For me: #T2RS I’m thankful to God for the people that helped lay the foundation of what is today Grace Community Church. It was such a joy to meet up with some dear friends this past Sunday who faithfully served and loved in the early days of Grace.  Our hearts were full.

Be a Doer aka Part 2

This is the short version of part two from this past weeks sermon:

Building your life in obedience to Jesus. James 1:19-25

This is about sanctification, how we live the Christian life. We have been saved and now we hear the word (look into the mirror) and we respond. As followers of Jesus, we are secure in our salvation and His grace.

Be an active ‘doer’ not a forgetful ‘hearer’:

I appreciate what Warren Wiersbe adds: “It is not sufficient, however, to receive the Word; one must respond to it in active obedience. One must “become,” or “keep on becoming” a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. The growing numbers of sermon-sippers who flit from one doctrinal dessert to another like helpless hummingbirds are deceiving themselves. “Deceiving” is from a verb used only here and in Col 2:4, means “to cheat or deceive by false reasoning.” The deception comes from thinking they have done all that is necessary when actually listening to the Word is only the beginning.”

The word for “looks into” means “to stoop down” in order to have a good close look.

The “Law that gives freedom” seems like a paradox. Law seems to imply restraint and therefore a lack of freedom. Not so with God’s Law. His perfect Law provides true freedom. “Hold to My teaching,” Christ said, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

This life he brings us is an ‘abundant life’. We’re free to take His word and make application and thus be doers, bringing Him glory!

So what is it God’s calling you to “do”?