Archive for the ‘Pastor Posts’ Category

God is Faithful – God is Good!

Posted: January 2, 2015 in Pastor Posts

Can you believe it? We are now in 2015. We finally made it to the year in the future that Marty McFly travels to in Back to the Future Part II. I am a little disappointed that I don’t yet own a hover-board. Yet, I have to say that I am excited for what 2015 has in store! Yes, there are many unknowns and potential fears as we start a new year. However, I am excited because I know two things: God is faithful, and God is Good! He proves Himself to be faithful and good year after year. As we begin 2015, let’s remember how He has been faithful and good to Grace Church in 2014. Here are the video testimonies of God’s faithfulness and goodness from 2014:

March:

 

April:

 

June:

 

September:

 

December:

 

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Joshua 10:1-6, As soon as Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua had captured Ai and had devoted it to destruction, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, he feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were warriors. So Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, to Piram king of Jarmuth, to Japhia king of Lachish, and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, “Come up to me and help me, and let us strike Gibeon. For it has made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel.”Then the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it.

And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not relax your hand from your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the hill country are gathered against us.”

Background Information in Joshua 10:

God’s people, saved out of Egypt, are finally able to enter the land God had promised generations before to Abraham-the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet, it was a land that was occupied by evil and dangerous people. And what we see is that God is with His people. Jericho falls, then Ai falls, then the Gibeonites, who were a powerful people with a powerful city, make a treaty with Israel. The conquest of the southern part of Canaan was well underway and was threatening Adoni-Zedek…the King of Jerusalem!

So the king of Jerusalem does what any good king does when feeling threatened and like his back is up against the wall…he recruits 4 other city-states of his own to destroy Joshua’s new allies.

With an attack immanent, Gibeon decides to test their newly inked treaty! And so they call on Joshua and the Israelites to come help defend the Gibeonites against this 5 army alliance! Now here is where it is easy to read this incredibly brief account in Scripture and miss how incredibly epic and massive the battle is. Two armies are facing 5 armies. When you go see the Battle of the 5 Armies in a couple weeks, pay attention to how large and intimidating 5 armies looks…then add two more armies! Then you will understand the scale of what we are talking about here!

In the film The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, there is a statement made by the protagonist – Bilbo Baggins. He says, “when faced with death, what can anyone do?” That is a great question. It is a question that Joshua had to answer as he marches his people into battle! Joshua was faced with death. He was faced with an unthinkable situation.

Many of us today have faced or are facing an unthinkable situation. If you have not yet faced an unthinkable situation, I have some very bad news. You will at some point in your life. It is the human condition. We are destined to face tragedy because we live in a fallen and wicked world! So we must ask a key question: When faced with the unthinkable, what should we do? The answer? We must remember the promises of God!

That may seem incredibly simplistic. How do the promises of God help us when we are facing insurmountable obstacles and unthinkable situations? In this amazing story we will see three ways that remembering God’s promise can help us when facing the unthinkable.

  1. God’s Promises should Give us Confidence.
  2. God’s Promises should Motivate Action.
  3. God’s Promises should Result in Prayer.

We will unpack each of these points in the next three blog posts.

Written by Pastor Dave Bertolini

I don’t know about you, but I am excited and somewhat saddened this December as we approach the release of the Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies! I am excited because I, like many of you, have waited a long time to be able to see the Hobbit story in film. And here it is! Yet, I am saddened because this film marks what will be the last feature film in the Lord of the Rings universe – at least for a long, long time!I have always loved the Lord of the Rings books. And I was wowed and amazed by the original trilogy. The LORT trilogy so perfectly captured the epic scope, the grand themes, the intense emotions of what is one of the most loved trilogies in print. And yet, there was so much in the trilogy of books that was missing in the trilogy of films! How could any film capture all that J.R.R. Tolkin had written? It would be impossible…or so we thought.

With the almost complete Hobbit trilogy, it is the opposite. The LOTR trilogy took three lengthy books and turned them into three lengthy films, while cutting out much of the story along the way. The Hobbit Trilogy takes a single book and turns it into three rather lengthy films! In doing so, the filmmakers, helmed by LOTR veteran Peter Jackson, fill in a lot of the plot gaps left in the book of the Hobbit. Reports claim that this new information can be found in other writings by J.R.R. Tolkin but was never in the book of the Hobbit! While reading the Hobbit novel, it must be understood that there is much that is never revealed! For instance, where does Gandalf go when the Dwarf troop enters Mirkwood? In the book we aren’t told. It isn’t until the introduction to the Fellowship of the Ring that we get an answer. An account that never made it into the film baring the same name. Yet, in the Hobbit film, we see that, in fact, Galdalf is waging a war of his own against the rise of the feared Necromancer, who is revealed to be none other than the great evil nemesis Sauron!

As happens with all changes, there are many who are less than thrilled by the addition of the new material. Yet, there are also many who like me, are loving the expanded story! I love knowing more about what was going on behind the scenes that wasn’t written about in the Hobbit novel. I love seeing the battle scenes fully developed on the scale of the other Lord of the Rings stories. The films have made a fun and interesting book seem larger, darker, and far more epic.

And here we come down to an important point. What was written in the book of the Hobbit is what we needed to know. Namely, how Bilbo Baggins found the ring, how evil began to return to Middle Earth, etc. While the Hobbit novel covered what we needed to know, the cinematic Hobbit trilogy is showing that there is much more we could know!

Why do I bring this up? What does this have to do with the Bible? A lot actually!

First, we must understand that God’s Word has revealed everything we need to know, but not everything that we could know. It is everything we need to know…it is the complete written revelation of God! Nothing we needed to know was left out. If God wanted us to know more, He would have written it! But, it is certainly not everything we could know! And that is ok!

Secondly, the Bible is far more Epic than we can possibly imagine! There are the most heart-rending romances, the worst of enemies, the most heroic of heroes, and some of the most epic battles known to human history! We often watch movies like Lord of the Rings and get all fired up about the massive scope of the battles! We often overlook the massive scope of the stories of Scripture. One of these epic stories, and really one of the most underrated stories, is the story from Joshua chapter 10. We will be unpacking the message of this amazing story over the next few posts.

However, I will leave you with this thought. Quit wishing for and/or searching for new information to add to the pages of Scripture. Instead, learn and apply what is already there! It is everything you need to know to live the life God has called you to live!

Written by Pastor Dave Bertolini

Faith and Doubt…

Posted: June 11, 2014 in Pastor Posts

I am a pastor who struggles with doubt (Insert GASP here)…But doubt has lead to a lot of personal and spiritual growth in my life and also understanding on how to help others who struggle with doubt. It’s important that we realize that doubt is not the opposite of faith. Doubt is not the same as unbelief. The church needs to be place where we can be open and honest about our doubts. The Scriptures are full of people who struggled with doubt, often the “heroes” of the faith (Genesis 12, Job 14:19-20, Psalm 13:1-6, John 20:24-28, Mark 9:24, Matthew 11:1-15, etc.), but also reveals a God who can handle His peoples doubts and offers comfort and peace to those who earnestly seek Him.

Here is one of the best sermons I’ve heard on the topic by Dr. Bobby Conway. Check it out if you have ever struggled with doubt: 

I also recommend “The Thomas Factor” by Dr. Gary Habermas which can be read for free here: http://www.garyhabermas.com/books/thomas_factor/thomas_factor.htm

Lastly, here is a great article by Dr. Mike Licona on dealing with doubt as a Christian: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/dealing-with-doubt1

If these three men, who have doctorates and are some of the leading Christian apologists and scholars in the world, can admit their struggles with doubt then hopefully we can to. But, thankfully they not only admit their struggles but also offer advice and wisdom on how God has helped them overcome their doubts.

I hope these things are as helpful to you as they were to me!

Written by Pastor Ben

SUPERBOWL PARTY OUTREACHES

Posted: January 29, 2014 in Pastor Posts

As we continue our mission to Make Disciples, one of the best ways to do this is through utilizing opportunities our culture gives us. One of these upcoming opportunities is Superbowl Sunday. What better way to get Christians rubbing shoulders with non-Christians than during the biggest sports event of the year! Everyone loves Superbowl parties. Whether for the game, the food, the hanging out, or the commercials, there is something for everyone.

Because of that, we are encouraging you to think about Superbowl differently this year. Do not think of it as a game to watch, but as a chance to reach out to that friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker. Get them together with a few of your Christ-follower friends. And then, just hang out! Throw the best party you can, with an intentional mix of Christians and non-Christians, and then let life happen. For more ideas on how to make a Superbowl party into an outreach opportunity, check out this blog post: http://www.vergenetwork.org/2014/01/27/6-very-simple-ways-to-make-your-superbowl-missional/

This year in particular lends itself to spiritual conversations. Many of the Seahawks are solid Christ-followers. In fact, The Resurgence has put out a free video online for you to use. There are clips of the video below. For the full video, use the following link: http://theresurgence.com/2014/01/24/watch-the-resurgence-halftime-show

The pastors and leaders here at GCC are praying for you as you engage in the mission of Worshiping God by Making Disciples.

Written by Pastor Dave

No More Sorrow, No More Pain

Posted: January 28, 2014 in Pastor Posts

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears

There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face

But until that day, we’ll hold on to You always”

                                    Jeremy Camp – There Will Be A Day

Being sick the last few days, I experienced head congestion, coughing, fatigue, and muscle aches.  My body literally felt like I just ran a marathon.  And As I lay in bed looking up at the ceiling I began to think about people I have known who are in constant pain.  I once had a friend who had a disc missing from his vertebrae and there is no surgery that can fix it.  He takes pain pill after pain pill all day long.  There was another man, at our past church, who suffered excruciating pain every minute of the day due to chemical exposure in Vietnam.  I remember praying over him as he was weeping, saying he couldn’t go on living like this anymore.  It made me think about how many of us are in pain….physically…emotionally.  Life is hard.  Life is painful.  Sin has tainted God’s perfect creation.  We are now yearning and longing for something more.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 (ESV)

What an amazing picture!  One day, God will wipe away the pain and the sorrow.  We will be with Jesus forever.  That is the hope we have.  In the midst of our trials here on earth, in the midst of our pain and struggles, we can find hope.  As are eyes are fixed on Jesus, as our hearts and minds are set on things above, we can experience joy in the sorrow.  We have a Savior who is going to one day make all things new!

To hear more, check out this link where Jeremy Camp describes his song “There Will Be A Day.”

Written by Pastor Ryan Bucher

“The Good Portion”

Posted: January 9, 2014 in Pastor Posts

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Every day we choose how we will spend our time. A big portion of our day is usually filled up with things that are necessary (eating, sleeping, etc.), but there are also other portions of our day that we fill up with things we would all admit are not necessary or essential (watching television, scrolling through various social media sites, playing video games, shopping for unneeded clothes and “toys”, etc.) If you were to use the circle below to make a pie chart of your normal day what would it look like? How much of it would be filled with necessary things and how much of it would be filled with non-essentials?

Circle

As we choose how we will spend our time every day I think it’s important to understand what Jesus told Martha in Luke 10:38-42. In the story we see Martha distracted, anxious, and troubled as she tries to host Jesus and prepare a meal for Him and the other guests. And as she anxiously runs around trying to get everything ready she sees her sister, Mary, sitting over by Jesus, listening to Him teach. We know by Martha’s statement to Jesus in verse 40 that she is frustrated with her sister and she believes that she has made a better decision than Mary with how to spend that time. But look at how Jesus responds to her in verses 41-42,

“But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Obviously what Martha was doing wasn’t a bad thing but Jesus wanted her to understand that there is a better way she could be spending her time. There was something that she could be doing that is more necessary and more important. And that thing is spending time with Him.

I think many of us are too often like Martha. We are distracted by so many different things that we neglect the most important thing. We fill our days up with so many unnecessary things and we neglect the one thing Jesus says is most necessary; spending time with Him.

As you evaluate your pie chart above and the way you spend your time I challenge you to ask yourself, “What are some things I spend time doing everyday that are unnecessary and that I could exchange for the one thing that is truly necessary which is time with Jesus?”

Although Jesus is not here physically we can still sit and hear from Him by reading His Word. Through our intake of His Word we are able to grow in our knowledge and love for Him which leads to being changed and transformed into His image more and more (2 Cor. 3:18).

What will you do to make time everyday for what Jesus calls “the good portion”?

Written by Pastor Ben

A Thankful Heart

Posted: November 20, 2013 in Pastor Posts

I love this time of year!  Christmas and Thanksgiving are right around the corner and everyone seems to be in a good mood.  Businesses offer up their latest pumpkin spice or eggnog concoctions and Christmas lights, football, and turkeys are on people’s minds.  It is a time of celebration and getting together with family and friends.  It is a time to be thankful.

As we approach Thanksgiving next week, we are reminded to be grateful.  From advertisements to greeting cards, we are reminded that, as Americans, we are blessed and have so many things to be thankful for.  Thankful for family. Thankful for friends.  Thankful for a warm house.  Thankful for a job.  Thankful for food to eat.  This time of year we are reminded to have an ‘attitude of gratitude.’

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)

As I reflect on my own life, I have to admit, that I would not be characterized as a thankful person, especially ‘in all circumstances.’  When things are going well, I try to be grateful — most of the time:)   It can be a challenge to be thankful.  How about you?  How is your level of thankfulness this year?

So often my focus is on things of this world…food, friends, football, and guitars 🙂  It can be easy to forget that, as believers in Jesus, we are spiritually blessed beyond measure.  I am challenged by the question:  “Do we daily think about what Christ has done for us?”  I mean, we were once lost…destined for hell…and Christ redeemed us!  And He continues to forgive us daily…over and over and over again!  Are we daily thankful that in our sin… in our mess…God continues to love us and call us His children?

When we daily remember what Christ has done for us, we can have the same perspective the apostle Paul had:

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  Romans 7:24-25 (ESV)

So, as you plunge into the festivities of Thanksgiving next week, are you thankful?  Thankful in all circumstances?  Thankful not just for a great family and friends, a nice home-cooked meal, a warm fireplace, and a cozy sweater.  I mean thankful; really, truly thankful that you have a Savior who loves you and has called you a son or daughter.  A Savior who delights in giving good gifts to His children.  A Savior who deserves our praise and thanks…in all circumstances.

“You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God; I will extol you.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!”

                                    Psalm 118:28-29

Written by Pastor Ryan Bucher

In Need of Rest?

Posted: November 15, 2013 in Pastor Posts

Life is so busy. When we are asked how we are doing, what is often our go to response? Mine is, “Good, but really busy.” I came across this amazing verse the other day. It is one I have known for a while but one that I needed to hear again.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Why is that so significant? Well, let me ask you this. Why are we so busy? Jesus told us in Matthew 28:18-20 what our lives are to be about, didn’t He? He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

That is to become our mission, how we prioritize our lives. The problem is we are so busy. How can my life be about that? How can I add “making disciples” onto everything else I’m doing?

So, did Jesus forget the whole “my burden is light” idea by the time we get to Matthew 28? Or perhaps, does Jesus know that His burden is light, and the burden we put on ourselves is overwhelming. Does Jesus also know that He will be giving us the Holy Spirit to help us as we are on mission?

Because, think about it. Are we the first generation to be busy? Are we the first in history to face overwhelming circumstances? Or, could it be that when we are on mission, when we prioritize our lives rightly, when we rely on the Holy Spirit to empower us for this mission, does life become manageable?

I tend to think that much of our stress is of our own making. Yes, there is a ton outside of our control. We face trials and hardship that are devastating. However, it is also true that we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We have to be the best employee, and so we work far too much overtime. Add to that the desire for stuff or recreation that creates financial stress or even more overtime. We must be the best parents, so we have our kids in 100 different activities when one would do.

So, we come back to Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Maybe this is the time to reevaluate your life in relation to the mission Jesus has given us. Maybe this is the time to simplify your life to maximize your impact. Maybe this is the time to trade in the business for focus – focusing on what we as Christ-followers are called to be about. Maybe it is time to let go of some control, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead and empower you, instead of you leading and trying to empower yourself.

I believe Jesus’ words. He wasn’t just making this up. Therefore, following Christ should lift the burden, not add to it.

Written by Pastor Dave

Harvest Week of Prayer 2013

Posted: November 7, 2013 in Pastor Posts

I wanted to thank you for your participation in our Harvest Week of Prayer. Close to one hundred 1-hour slots were covered in prayer during the week! The result being that we saw Harvest Town and Youth Barn Parties at their best. Attendance was great, and each event went smoothly and was powerfully effective. Also, at each event the Gospel was shared and follow up contact was made with people who have no church affiliation.

We as the leadership of GCC do not take any credit for the successes we witnessed. Rather, we credit God’s work through you, the people of GCC, sacrificing your time to be quiet and pray. God worked in and through these events and the people who staffed them in building His Kingdom.

I also want to thank you for your willingness to pray in groups during the October 20 and 27 services. I have heard story after story of people who were blessed beyond belief because someone took the time to pray with them.

We would ask that your willingness to pray not end just because we aren’t breaking up into groups or your name is no longer on a sign-up sheet. Instead, let us pray often and with urgency. The reality is every week, every day, every hour is important when it comes to our mission to make disciples!

Thank you again for your dedication to GCC and participation in these prayer opportunities.

Written by Pastor Dave