Holy Week

Laurie and I returned a couple of weeks ago from an amazing trip to Israel. Last Sunday, our first back, we shared some of the highlights of the trip and then I brought a message about why the Mount of Olives was such an important part. As we are now on Palm Sunday, where Jesus started on the Mount of Olives, I’m so grateful we had a chance to go and experience being where Jesus was, and is coming again! You can hear last week’s message here.

With Holy week upon us, I compiled a simple list of the readings for this week in the life of Christ. One source had one event on Wednesday, most don’t have anything. I added it there just to bring some balance. The important thing in considering this week is remembering how it all ends!

Grace Group Study Notes for Holy Week

My last Saturday

At this place. 

For the past 7 1/2 years, this has been home for the Grace offices and ministry center. 

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I’m thankful the Lord has had a place for us and we have been able to see a lot of lives affected and changed right here in this building. With the students of GSM that meet here, the men’s and women’s groups, Bible studies, discipleship groups, classes, prayer meetings, the worship rehearsals, the countless elder and staff meetings, the special meetings we’ve had, there are many great memories here. Remember those few times we had to actually meet here for our Sunday services?  Seems like we did that twice.  Pretty awesome!  God’s people have had a place to do ministry and for that we’re all grateful. But it’s time to clear out and make more memories at the next address.  

ImageMost Saturday’s I’ve been here in this quiet room.  No matter how busy or hectic the week has been, I’ve found a place to be still and get my mind and heart ready for the weekly celebration we call “church”.  I know God has much more in store for Grace with our new place and a season while we continue to shop for a place to buy. In the midst of packing I’m encouraged that we are HIS people, no matter our address, no matter if we rent or buy. We are His, our identity is in Jesus, not an address.  Thanks to all of you who have worked hard to bless the body of Grace Community Church. 

A week from today is our huge “moving day”.  Yes, we need your help!  What’s that saying, ‘many hands…’?

Keep praying for your church!  

This Probably Matters Little

I’ve been a Facebook guy.  I really do enjoy staying in touch and following along. However, of my 800 friends, I may still hear from about 12.  I like to keep up with family, our church family, old friends, a couple buds from high school, and many from earlier ministry days.
I’ve also noticed in the past few weeks that I get more and more distracted with just looking around.
My responsibilities seem to be growing as our church grows. I love leading and serving alongside our staff, our elders and the many people I get to interact with on a weekly basis at Grace.  I’m also needing to give my best effort in a program I’m in at seminary. So I’m taking a break from Facebook for awhile. I really don’t think it matters to most. But I don’t want to appear non responsive, so this will post to Facebook. I’ve asked Laurie and my assistant, Cara, to keep on eye on Facebook for me.  I’ll try to not fall too much out of the social network world. For now, a break, short or long, is in order.
I will keep my Twitter active as it serves a better need for me.  You are welcome to follow along there: https://twitter.com/jmarksmith
My family is mostly connected through emails. My church gets emails, and this blog.

Mexico

Please pray for Laurie and I as we head into Mexico.

I’ll be speaking at a family camp this evening in Imuris. Our church has invested in this ministry over the years. We’re looking forward to seeing some dear friends.

Pray that we can encourage the missionaries and that God would bless His Word in the preaching and teaching opportunities.

I’ll be back at Grace this Sunday!

 

Upcoming @Grace!

I love summer in Flagstaff, don’t you?  Here are a few dates I want you to know about and mark down:

July 1st – Vision 2012 Update.  I’ll use time during the sermon to update you on what we set out to do on January 1. 

July 8th – If I were you, I wouldn’t want to miss this Sunday! 

July 22nd – Grace @ Noon and Sinagua Service day.  Regular worship service, themed on serving, then an all-church lunch (this is what we call Grace@Noon!), then an all-church work day for a few hours to minister right there at Sinagua. 

July 29th – Grace 1.0

Aug 19th – Baptism!!

GSM to Hume

We just sent our kids off to Hume Lake today.  I love seeing all these kids, many I don’t know, many friends going because they were invited. I love seeing a huge, cool bus.  I love seeing a group of parents watching, knowing the real cost of something like this. I love watching the young ones launch out for the first time and get on that big bus with kids they don’t know. Yet.  Mostly, I love seeing our man Timothy Serrano step up and own this. I love that he was mentored by Pastor Bob and raised by godly parents. This is what a church does. It raises up and launches. It invests in others.

Be praying for Tim and Makensie and all the youth workers as they love and lead this group of students in a wonderful week.

Yep, it’s been awhile

Finally opened my blog site, and I’m noticing a poor pattern here.

Seriously, it’s just about everyday I think of something I need to blog about. What that means is, there’s something I want to either add to last weeks sermon, or some observation I just made, or I just witnessed a real-life answer to prayer and I want you to know it.  There’s always something.  I am a little intimidated to even think about making a list of such observations since I last wrote here. Yep, it’s that bad.  (Maybe a few highlights will show up if I can in fact get on this horse and stay on it for a while.)

I’ve mentioned before that I like to read either a chapter from Proverbs each day or one of the Psalms.  No matter what else I’m reading (currently the wild ride of King David), I like to keep the Proverbs open.  As you probably already know, the 31 chapters in Proverbs makes it easy to stay in the game.  You know life happens, you get busy, and you realize it’s been too long since you’ve had meaningful time in the Scriptures.  With the Proverbs, you simply pick up reading on the corresponding day of the month.  That’s not why I read it, but it’s probably what got me started and yes, it still helps.

Have you found yourself saying, “yep, it’s been awhile” since I …?  It’s not too late. If it’s about taking care of your soul by reading, meditating, enjoying some good worship music, then do it. Now. Today. Open the Bible and read a paragraph and stop for 5 minutes and think on it.  Has it been awhile since you’ve exercised, enjoyed your favorite meal, or written in your journal or spent time with someone near you?  Just do it. Today. Even if it’s simple.

Kinda like today’s blog.

Jet lag? and Blessings

It is so good to be home. The time in Thailand was amazing and I’m so grateful I was able to be a part.  

I really don’t even understand jet-lag.  I mean the time change makes sense that it would bother you a little, but this is just odd.  I’d think a good night’s rest would take care of it. Of course I know better. We’ve traveled enough to know what this is and to expect it. But that doesn’t make it any easier. I’ve heard it best described as living in a ‘fog’.  That about says it.  So, forgive me if over these next few days you and I meet and you leave wondering if I haven’t suffered a stroke.  I think I’ll be fine. Eventually.

This morning at Grace was one of those special times.  I can’t wait for Resurrection Sunday and the opportunity to share more of what happened today. Blew my mind!  God’s grace is amazing the more we understand and celebrate who HE is and what HE had done for us.  To think, we deserve hell, but instead we find ourselves in the righteousness of Christ.  All because of His love and grace for us.  What a blessing to be a part of this church and to know God is working through a bunch of ordinary people.  

Nice. 

Headed Home

We’re leaving in just a few minutes to teach the last session at the college, then this afternoon we’ll take the 2 hour drive to Bangkok and get on our flight to LA.  Once we arrive, we’ll rent a car and drive to Phx, arriving about 3 or 4am on Friday.  This might be a long day!

Thanks for praying for me while I’ve been here. It’s been wonderful and I’m grateful for all God is doing and has allowed us to be a part of here in Thailand. I’m ready to come home.