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.

A Time to be Thankful and a Time to Grow

At Grace we’re studying 2 Peter.  A couple of weeks ago we saw where Peter instructed us to ‘supplement’ or ‘add to’ our faith. Clearly that’s a sanctifying faith. We’re not saved by doing these things. Rather, these things are a healthy reflection that we are saved and pursuing Christ-likeness.

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV)

This past Sunday we considered what Psalm 107 teaches us about giving God thanks. Though it’s good and healthy to list the things we’re thankful for (a usual custom during Thanksgiving week!), it’s even better to give Him thanks because we are redeemed.

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble”
(Psalm 107:1-2 ESV)

His steadfast love [lovingkindness, mercy] is why we thank Him.  He has redeemed us and called us His own and now we are to SAY SO!

Use this Thanksgiving week to demonstrate your sanctifying salvation by adding to your faith, things such as brotherly love and even a little self-control! Wow, what a list for a family get-together.

However you spend your holiday be sure to give thanks to God for His Son, Jesus, who has redeemed us by giving himself in our place as the final payment for all-time for all sin!  We’ve been redeemed, so let’s say so.

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.

Speak UP

Do you remember the last time someone spoke an encouraging word to you?  Maybe it was a simple ‘thanks’ or perhaps it was a well-deserved, yet not sought-after compliment on your performance or a recent accomplishment.  The best ones are the words that speak to your character, to who you are, not just how well you do.

There’s something powerful in our words when used to build up another person.  Paul knew that and knew that the church needed to practice.

In Ephesians 4:25-32 we see the idea of living this new life of grace with others.  Paul essentially passes on a list of dos and don’ts.  Not to worry. This is not a quick descent into a binding legalistic lifestyle. This is simply taking the Words of scripture and applying them as God intended.  The dos and don’ts are actually quite welcoming. We need not fear, simply examine and apply.

Here’s one point for us to ponder, taken from vs 29:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Don’t use your speech to corrupt, tear-down, or in any obscene way.  Instead, use it to build up. The principle is that others need the grace your words can give.

How are you at lifting up others with your speech?  I don’t do well here.  Well, I can, and sometimes do. But it’s not a natural thing. Maybe that’s good. Maybe that shows me I need God’s Spirit within me to remind me and equip me and help me when it comes to building others up. The term for building up is the same as used in verse 12 where Paul says that the body of Christ is built up as we are equipped to serve one another. Perhaps its this ‘building up’ kind of speech that God uses to build up the entire church.

I have a dear friend who lives this.  Every time, and I mean every time I see him, he’s encouraging. And what’s happened is there is this community around him that does the same. Building up does not mean we flatter [false praise] or constantly use syrupy language. It simply means we look for words that will build up in grace, and not tear down in judgment or criticism.  You and I both know there’s a world of difference.

So, let’s try it.  Use your words to speak into another person’s life, with uplifting descriptive terms  that encourage. Let’s try it on facebook, twitter, a quick text message, or better yet, in person.

The sermon and NEW accompanying notes are found here!

Grace Continues

Just a quick note of thanks to the family of Grace Community.  Yesterday we spent the first Sunday of the New Year displaced from our normal meeting place.  We’ve had to do this only one time before.  As anticipated, it actually went off very well.  As mentioned in earlier posts, the school we meet in had an electrical problem due to the extreme freezing weather we’ve had.  So we moved Sunday church services to our rather small Ministry Center.  I believe we have 80 chairs. Maybe close to 100 by the time every desk chair and old metal chair was found.  In three services, each less than an hour, we had about 315 make their way through Grace.

What grabbed my attention was that the message of Grace went forth, without a hitch.  The set up people, techs, and musicians all put in extra to make sure Grace had a home.  Thanks also to the sign guy for making the necessary changes so people would find their way.  It was also encouraging to meet guests. Imagine that, guests finding their way to a church that wasn’t meeting in the normal place.

Thanks to all.  I think it’s because we really believe in what we’re about. We have the awesome privilege of carrying the message of grace.  I’m pretty sure this is going to be an amazing year for Grace.  So, here we go!

A Full Day of Grace

Last night as I was reflecting on the day, I realized just how good God is and what an amazing ride it is to serve Him and lead others to do the same.  Here are a few highlights:

  • I had a brief meeting yesterday with our Grace Group leaders and hosts. I was reminded how thankful I am for each of them and their leadership within our church family.
  • Each Sunday we meet with everyone working that day throughout the ministries of Grace.  We now meet at 9:30 and pray for the day and for our ministry and the opportunities we’ll have.  I love these people and their willingness to serve the family of Grace.
  • 10 minutes before the service even starts we have live worship music as our musicians get the day going and welcoming as the church gathers. Yesterday there was such a sweet spirit in the room as we awaited the 10 o’clock start.
  • We had our Grace Group at lunch yesterday, because of the Kids program last night.  With this amazing weather we grilled burgers as we said farewell to some that are leaving this semester.  Like many of the Grace Groups, we’ll start up after the first of the year.  Love our Group!
  • Last night Kelly Phillips led a group of Grace kids in a Christmas program.  It was very sweet. You could tell a lot of work went into practicing, costumes, building a set, and memorizing lines.  Kids did great!
  • Last night we got to hear testimony from one of our families who just returned from a missions trip.  Their enthusiasm is contagious. Laurie and I were encouraged and reminded of why we’re here as we listened and prayed with our dear friends.

The day seemed a little longer than usual, but it was full of God’s grace. We are seeing His hand at work throughout Grace and for that, we are most blessed and thankful.

Not Just One Day – Thoughts on GivingThanks

Laurie and I enjoy getting out and hiking.  By the term hike, what I really mean is a nice walk in the forest. We save the strenuous stuff for prepping for a Grand Canyon hike or pushing ourselves a little up the Lost Burrito trail.  But mostly, it’s getting out and enjoying the forest and watching our dogs run like they were bred to do.

Because we don’t get out enough, almost every time we do, one of us will say, “we really should do this more often”.  We don’t say that because we feel guilty about our health. We don’t say it because someone is telling us we should. We certainly don’t say it because someone said that to be a good resident of Flagstaff, you have to hike, eat granola and vote liberal.  No, we say it because we thoroughly enjoy it. There are several things good about getting out and hiking. I won’t list them out, because that’s really not the point.

Here’s the all too obvious point; giving thanks for God’s activity in our life is not limited to Thanksgiving.

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1

Certainly throughout Israel’s year, there were days set aside for remembrance and worship.  So, we too get to worship each week on the first day. And we get to tell of His goodness and grace 24/7. Let’s give thanks today. And then again tomorrow, and the next day.  And not because we have to. We get to enjoy all of His blessings!

If you’re reading this, then you probably know me a little and I need to at least attempt a brief list of His wonderful deeds in my life:

  • Life eternal with God
  • My Laurie is cancer free and I love her more each day
  • That God allows me to serve Him by serving the wonderful family at Grace Community
  • Family and friends to share life with, sometimes randomly
  • That my house has been full the past few days with family
  • We get to eat. Every day.
  • That someone had the odd idea of a pie made of meat that is minced. That it sounds gross and few like it.  And for pumpkin pie as a chaser.
  • Good doctors who have helped us both this year
  • Grace that has saved me and kept me and allowed me to share that with people who God created to know Him.

Begin Thanksgiving by Giving

Tomorrow our shoe boxes are due at Grace for Operation Christmas Child!  All the boxes were cleaned out last week and I know some will just do their own box. Remember to bring them to church with you tomorrow!

Then tomorrow night, you can continue the spirit of giving by giving thanks as our church family gathers for our first Thanksgiving Service.  Join us at 5:30!

Regular Worship service – 10 am

Thanksgiving Service – 5:30 pm

Can’t wait to see you there.

Testimonies of Grace

This Sunday night is our first ever “Thanksgiving Service”.  We’ll meet at 5:30 for about an hour.  As we’re planning this, it’s hard to believe we’ve NOT been doing this before.  Mark it down- new tradition!

Would YOU like to participate?  During the service most will have an opportunity to express in small groups what they are thankful to God for during this season.  I also will have a limited number of testimonies given from the stage.  I’d like to have one of you that reads my blog give your testimony.  So here’s how this will go: If you’d like to give your testimony in 3 minutes, then send an email to with your story and I’ll prayerfully pick ONE.  And yes, I may introduce you as the Blog winner! But probably not.  Sorry I can’t have all of you share, but it’s a time thing!  That’s why you’ll probably have time during the service to share with one another.  Ok, go. Make it short and honoring to Jesus!

Thank you, Bekah!

Grace has a wonderful staff of people working to serve our body and the purposes of our church.  This past week we said farewell to Bekah as she devotes more of her time to her Senior year at NAU.

Bekah joined our Grace office staff about three years ago.  Her family has been such an integral part of Grace for a long time.  True to her roots, Bekah has extended grace and kindness to everyone she has touched in our front office. She was the one who likely answered the phone when you called, or welcomed you as you entered.  She has been the one to produce our bulletins and keep all the calendar information flowing as well as a host of other duties critical to the smooth functioning of our church. Bekah, we will really miss you. Thank you for your sweet servant’s heart that clearly reflects Jesus to all as you’ve ministered through our office.

You’ll still see Bekah faithfully serving around Grace. She’s very committed to serving alongside our Children’s Ministry and she is one of the leaders in GSM as well.

Thanks Bekah.