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.

AZ1.27 a new ministry opportunity for all of Grace Community Church!

I often say whether in a sermon or a prayer, “let us be the hands and feet of Jesus here in Flagstaff”!  I love that.  I know many of you are loving and serving Christ throughout your place of work, your classes and your neighborhoods.  Here is another opportunity for us to do something together.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  James 1:27

Arizona 1.27 is a state-wide movement of churches working together to see every child in foster care placed in a loving home.

Grace Community is partnering with AZ1.27 to learn all the ways we can help kids and families.  On Monday night, April 29 we will be hosting an AZ1.27 Orientation. This orientation will help those that have interest and questions about fostering and/or adoptions here in Arizona.  But, just as important are all the ways the rest of us can lend a hand.  Together we’ll learn ways the local church can help kids and families.  I can’t wait for you to join me on April 29.

Grace Community Ministry Center 6pm-8:30pm

Go here for more information.

Go here to register.  Registration is not mandatory, but it really does help!  Thanks.

Time to Celebrate

“Every week at Grace is important”

I really do believe this. Every week matters. Gathering together with our church family is a sacred and honored tradition taught to us in the New Testament and modeled through 2000 years of history.

In just under two weeks, Grace will have a special Sunday. It’s our 20th Anniversary.

On that day we’ve rented the beautiful outdoor Pepsi Amphitheater at Ft. Tuthill.  This is a great venue for a celebration like this. Truth is, the actual church service will be very much like every other Sunday at Grace over the past 20 years.  We’ll lift high the name of Jesus and show our love for God through Worship and teaching. The big difference is we’re meeting outdoors.  It’s a celebration!

We’ve been talking this up a bit lately, mainly so our church knows when and where to meet and what to expect. But yesterday morning I caught a whole new vision of what this celebration could look like.

On Sunday, I finished up a few messages emphasizing the core of our Community. We finished with “Love Your Neighbor”. I challenged the church to look for and jump on LYN Ops.  Opportunities to Love Your Neighbor! As I was considering my neighbors, it dawned on me that this upcoming celebration is the ideal opportunity to invite them to attend Grace.  Anniversaries are great, and I really do believe the Lord would have us stop, remember and give Him praise for our past. But what excites me even more is this – continuing to love our neighbors, welcoming people in our church and sharing with them the love of God through the Gospel story!

Think about it, what a great atmosphere to invite people that you’re praying for, people that you know don’t have a church home and people that may not easily come to a church service in a traditional setting.  Simply invite them to a “special outdoor service our church is having at the amphitheater with lunch included”.  Truth is, I’m not sure my neighbors care about an ‘anniversary’, why should they? But they may like the casual setting and gorgeous fall day in Flagstaff.

So, yes! It is a time to celebrate and invite!

“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!

Stepping Out

Each Sunday this year @ Grace we are putting out a challenge, a ‘stepping out’ if you will, kind of challenge.  Often sermons leave us thinking about our relationship to God and sometimes an action point that relates to those with whom we are closest.  These challenges are about ‘stepping out’ of our routines and comforts and stepping alongside those we see and don’t yet know. Here are the first three:

  • Think of a way to show appreciation to someone who blessed you in 2012
  • Meet a neighbor
  • Serve someone anonymously

I know, seems simple. Lots of room to be creative, or not.

Here’s the point:  We want to take initial steps in knowing and serving one another and those who are all around us.  Some of the challenges will be pointed towards others in our fellowship, some towards neighbors we know, and those we’ve never met. Some will be pointed towards missionaries we support and the smiling face that gives us our receipt at the local store.  The reason is not to say that we have finally fulfilled the Great Commandment to “love one another”, but to move in that direction.

My hope is that as we take these weekly challenges we will see a change in our perspective of where we live and how we can serve those around us.

Come and join us.  The weekly challenges are put on our website each Monday for that week.  What could it look like to have 500+ people in our community acting on these challenges to love and to serve?

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!

Honoring First Responders

On Sunday September 11, 2011 our nation will remember that horrific day ten years ago. A day we all remember where we were, what we were doing and that terrible unsettled feeling of ‘what next’. On that day our church will choose to remember by honoring those that serve our community as first responders. There are many issues and complicated layers of issues that arose from the events of 9-11. One positive note is that we as Americans were reminded how fortunate we are to have men and women who serve us by providing protection, civil rest, and even going so far as to put their lives on the line each day they put on the uniform. We are grateful.

On that Sunday at Grace we’ll pause for a few moments and say “Thanks”.
If you or someone you know serves throughout Northern Arizona, please come and be our guest on Sunday, 9-11-11.

Grace Community Church meets at Sinagua Middle School, our regular service time is 10 – 11:30am.

‘Twas the night before school…

First of all, I do realize that many have already started school. Humor me as I write this for all of our Gracers headed back to school this fall, or summer as it is.

Here’s my prayer for each of you whether you are in Flag unified, private, Christian, charter, or home schooled:

God, bless our kids.
Help them to grow and learn and laugh
May this school year be exceptional because each of them are
May each one know and see You as they study Your world
May each one know Your amazing love as they make friends and find acceptance among others
May each find joy in discovering who You’ve made them to be
May each one feel safe because they trust You and the plans You have for them
May they express grace and kindness especially on the days it seems undeserved
May they be bold in sharing Your story with others
May they be quick to praise You for who You are and how You are working
And may they never be ashamed of Your Son, Jesus!
May Your Spirit fill and guide them
God, use them to change the world
Bless them LORD, bless each one.

Grace in Relationships

Even wonder what makes your best friend your best friend?  Ever stop and think about the people you feel closest to?  How about those you feel safest around?

Yep, it’s probably all the same answer.  I call it ‘grace in relationships’.

We do our best around people who accept us for who we are and are quick to extend grace as we live in our humanness.  These are the same people that love us too much to let us stay in our junk. They’re quick to lend a hand, say a hard thing, speak the truth in love, sit and listen, and talk to the Creator on our behalf.  But always extending grace.

Our biggest struggles seem to be when we’re in the pressure cooker of trying to impress others or always finding ourselves living defensively.   I’m not a relationship expert. I am a follower of Jesus and I rather enjoy watching others around me follow Him too.  As mentioned in church a few weeks ago, we are His masterpiece, and He is working on us.  Listen, just the fact that He’s working on us is evidence of His grace.  He doesn’t give up on us. He doesn’t leave us alone to rot.  He graciously puts us in community so we can see Him and quite frankly, so we can ‘be’ Him.  You see, the church is the body of Christ.  We don’t get that title by staying away or hiding alone. We get that as we assemble ourselves and commit to community.

This week at Grace we’re gonna learn something about the beauty of connecting in our community.  If I were you and was anywhere close to Flagstaff, I’d be at Grace on Sunday.  Just sayin.