A shofar kind of morning

While we were in Israel a couple of months ago, we bought a shofar. A ram’s horn, to be exact.

As we are going through the NT book of 1 Thessalonians at Grace, today we came to chapter 5 on the Day of the Lord.  Of the 19 times we read of the Day of the Lord in the OT, one classic passage is Joel 2:1ff:

Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain!  Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near.  

In chapter 4 Paul taught about the rapture of the church. He was answering a concern the new believers had about those that died before Christ came back.  He answered with this:

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  1 Thess 4:16-17

The coming Day of the Lord in chapter 5 is different from the rapture of the church in chapter 4. The Day of the Lord speaks of the Lord’s second coming, where He will come down at the Mount of Olives.

We sounded the shofar this morning at church!  The sound of the trumpet serves as an alarm that the Lord is coming back and the Day of the Lord; judgment, will be completed and be final.  So, the trumpet is an act of grace. God doesn’t come unannounced. He has told us He’s coming. Are we ready?

As followers of Christ, we need to be encouraged to stay alert. To keep our feet firmly planted in the here and now, but keep our eyes looking to Jesus!  He has saved us and has given us the mission to tell others of His amazing grace.

  • Know that He loves you.
  • Know that He wants you to trust Him, as Savior.
  • Know that His Spirit is with us, allowing us to be alert and sober, keeping an eye on the events of our day, while we telling the story of grace.

Here’s to another 20!

IMG_4581

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it”  Ps 127:1

A couple of weeks ago on September 28th, we celebrated our 20th anniversary at Grace Community Church. It was an amazing day of worship, communion, teaching and some good memories. Our goal for the day was to lift up the name of Jesus and thank God for allowing us the blessing of being a faithful body of Christ in Flagstaff.  I heard it more than once, “our work isn’t done here”. It’s great to stop and look back and give thanks to the Lord. And it’s great to look ahead, pressing on to what the Lord would have us do as a church here in Flagstaff and throughout Northern Arizona. members-18 members-17 The on and off again rain didn’t seem to bother anyone.  And sure enough, about the time we said “amen”, it cleared up for a beautiful afternoon while everyone enjoyed some Bigfoot BBQ.  Thanks so much to our church family for working together to make Grace the very special place that it is.

IMG_4699

We were so blessed to see many friends that had been at Grace during some of the early years.

kids-32 kids-11 members-22members-16

“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!

#KSA

At Grace we are in a series called Prepare. The idea is this: What would happen if God answered your prayers?  Are you prepared?  Most of us have some idea of what we’d love to see God do, whether it’s related to our work, relationships, unsaved family and friends converted, or to see our church family grow.  Before the people of Israel entered the new promised land, Joshua provided leadership with these words:

‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’  Joshua 1:11

As the day approached, Joshua continued:

Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” 3:5

This past Sunday the topic was Confession.  Considering the awful scene in Joshua 7 where one man’s sin kept the entire nation from a presumed victory, God judged sin in a most dramatic fashion.  Similarly in Acts 5, we see a unique demonstration of discipline on sin during the offering part of the church service.  God has never looked lightly upon sin. And that’s why Jesus had to die for our sins.

Confession is good for the soul, true. But it’s more than that.  Confession keeps me humbly aware of God’s holy character and my need for His presence, through the Holy Spirit. My sin is less about me than it is my need to see God as revered and holy.

One application from the study on confessions is to keep short accounts. That simple phrase simply means, don’t allow something to go unsaid, misunderstood, or unconfessed.  If you’ve wronged someone, make it right. Say something. Go to them, not someone else.  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Eph 4:26-27

We all want to see God answer our prayers. Let’s be prepared for whatever God wants to do through our circumstances by making sure we keep short accounts.  Seriously, that’s a good hashtag right there: #ksa!

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:13-15

God’s House

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, 

will enter your house. 

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; 

let them ever sing for joy, 

and spread your protection over them, 

that those who love your name may exult in you. 

Psalm 5:7, 11

Today, Grace experienced a great ‘work-day’.  We are moving our Ministry Center and Offices to another temporary rented location.  The reason: about twice the space, much less in rent, allowing us to move forward with ministry while being financially responsible as we continue to pray and look for a place to purchase for our church!

We actually have two suites, very close together; one for offices, and the other is the main meeting room area.  The Ministry Center side is mostly good to go, we will be redoing the stage area and painting the entire room, but otherwise it’s in great shape.  Today’s work was tearing stuff out in the other room so the builders can get to work building out the office space.  I was so encouraged to work alongside so many great people today.  There’s a lot to do still, but today was good.  I’m sure I’ll get some pictures posted soon.  Thanks to all of you who were able to carve out most of your morning to lend a hand.

For God’s Glory

Nineteen years ago today it was a Sunday. This would be our first Sunday meeting as Grace Community at Sinagua High School. We advertised in the paper. We had dorky little cards made up. We called it a new beginning.  And it was.

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Eph 5:25-27

Thank you, Jesus, for the sacrifice that cleanses us and makes us new and for the assembly of those with whom we share this new life.  For Your glory!

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!