Archive for the ‘Staff & Ministry Leaders’ Category

Faith like a Child

Posted: February 19, 2014 in Staff & Ministry Leaders

What a blessing it is to share God’s love with our preschool and kindergarten students. Valentine’s Day is always met with sweet love and appreciation as classmate’s exchange Valentine’s with each other. Last week as we prepared for Valentine’s Day, our chapel lesson was on how special and important children are to Jesus. We shared Matthew 19:14 with them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 

Even though our students are young and are just beginning their educational journey, they exhibit what Jesus says we all need to belong to the kingdom of heaven. Children love, trust, are dependant and have faith!

What is it that gets in our way of having childlike faith? Is it pride? Do we try to make coming to faith in Jesus too complicated? Are we influenced by the world?

Just as children trust and love their parents and depend on them to meet their needs, we should look to our heavenly father and listen to what Proverbs 3:5 says, Trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding.

We must become like humble children; trusting, depending, loving and having the faith of a child.

We can learn a lot from children! Children are special to Jesus and they are special to us!

Written by Liz Fast – GCP&K Director

During Kids Life Club on Wednesday nights we have been talking  Daniel.  What example of a man to look at as a man following God.

One of our lessons was when King Nebuchadnezzar had his vision of the tree touching the sky. (Daniel 4)  Daniel informs King Nebuchadnezzar that this vision is about how great and strong he has become, his greatness and his dominion extends to distant parts of earth.  The vision said that King Nebuchadnezzar would be driven away from his kingdom and will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven.  Twelve months later  Nebuchadnezzar said “Is this not the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of MY majesty?”  While words were still on his lips all of his royal authority was taken away from him for seven years Nebuchadnezzar, and he ate grass like cattle, grew feathers of an eagle, and his nails were like the claws of a bird.

What is the lesson in this story??

We all have skills, sports, creative skills, leading, encouraging and so on…It is great to be good at something.  But we need to give God the credit for the skill. God created us and gave us those skills!!   We need to remember to give God the credit for our skills, and use them to Glorify Him.

Be careful the minute we start taking credit for our own skills, God will bring us down just like King Nebuchadnezzar.

Written by Charisa Burbank – Children’s Ministry Director

Christmas Hope

Posted: December 10, 2013 in Staff & Ministry Leaders

Grace Preschool and Kindergarten hosted a Christmas brunch for the moms of our school last week. We wanted to do something special for them as we head into the busy Christmas season. Our hope was that they would leave feeling encouraged and appreciated in their busy season of life as moms of young children.

During our time together, Jane Schmidt shared about her family’s tradition of the advent wreath and she gave a meaningful message of HOPE. I wanted to briefly share just a few highlights that stood out to me:

As Christ followers, we share hopes.

Before the birth of Jesus, the Jewish people knew the prophesy in scripture and their hope was in the coming Messiah. For us, on this side of the birth, death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus, our hope is in the return of our Mighty, Lord and King!

We all have personal hopes.

Each one of us has personal hopes; hopes for our children, hopes for health, occupations, finances, relationships, etc. What matters most is where we go with our hopes.

Jesus is our hope!

I was recently given a card from a friend that says, I pray therefore I Hope.

My heart is full of gratitude for the hope we can all have in Jesus. We can pray with confidence and great expectation about our personal hopes. And even though our hopes may not turn out the way we desire, we can place complete faith and trust in the creator of the universe to work all things together for good in His perfect plan. Do you have the hope that is found only in Jesus?

Those who hope in me will not be disappointed.

Isaiah 49:23

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Written by Liz Fast – Director of Grace Christian Preschool and Kindergarten

Growing up I lived on a cul-de-sac.  I knew every neighbor, I played with the kids.  We didn’t have each over for meals or anything but I knew them, and was comfortable around them.  My parents were fine with me going into their homes.  Well we have been in our current home for seven years now.  We have lived in our current house since 2006.  Since moving here how much do I know my neighbors? I know the people on each side of our home, and of course I know Pastor  Ben and Andrea down the street.  But how much do I know about them.  Well I know where they work, I know their names and little tid bits, but that is it.   We may have conversations over the fence about our gardens or the weather our combined lawn area, but that is it. I haven’t once invited them over.   Nothing close to what it was like when I was growing up.

This last summer I started to feel a little twinge of the need to reach out to my neighbors.  

But what did I do.  Nothing!  A couple of months ago I just happened to mention it in our staff meeting, and than Pastor Ben mentioned he had the same thoughts.  At that time Pastor Dave was talking about how we are to go out and make disciples. Our responsibility as Christians is love our neighbors and give them the opportunity to know Jesus. How can I give my neighbors the opportunity to know Jesus if I don’t even know their names.  Since than the  Potloffs,  Burbanks, and Sneeuwjagts have met.  We have made some plans.  Our prayer is between the three of us, we can start to make connections with our neighbors here on Card and Bonanza.

Written by Charisa Burbank – Children’s Ministry Director

praise-in-darkness

Worship is something we’ve been talking a lot about lately at GCC, along with the various aspects of worship. As I was preparing to teach the Bible lesson for Kids’ Life Club this week, I was struck by the timing of a particular worship session found in Acts 16. Paul and Silas had been arrested and thrown into prison for teaching people about Jesus and casting a demon out of a servant girl. In the middle of the night they began praying and singing praises to the Lord. Suddenly, there was a violent earthquake; the prison doors flew open and their chains were broken! The jailer believed the prisoners had all escaped and was about to commit suicide rather than face the punishment for the escape of the prisoners. However, Paul assured him everyone was still there, and through this amazing string of events, the jailer’s whole family put their trust in the Lord. The thing I find pretty incredible is not that Paul and Silas sang worship to the Lord but, rather, when they did it. It would make sense if they broke out in worship following the earthquake when their shackles had fallen off and the prison doors were open. It would be a natural reaction for them to worship after the jailer and his whole family chose to put their trust in Jesus. But looking at the passage, neither of these logical times for praise were when Paul and Silas started singing praises to the Lord. It was, in fact, much earlier. Prior to the jailer’s and his family’s conversions, prior to their release, prior to the earthquake, Paul and Silas began to sing, and sing loudly, to the Lord in a dark, dank, miserable, dirty prison, with no knowledge of when they’d be released (or if they’d be released), with seemingly no reason to do so. From all appearances, God had abandoned them when they were in the midst of doing His work! And yet, they sang!

We see a similar story in 2 Chronicles 20.  Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, (one of the only God-loving kings of Judah) was told that a vast army was marching against him and his much smaller army. Immediately, he cried out to the Lord and sought His will. He recalled the Lord’s past faithfulness and acknowledged his own utter inability to change the horrible problem he faced.  (Oh, that we were so humble and honest instead of trying first and hardest to fix things ourselves!) The word of the Lord came to a Levite, and he told King Jehoshaphat that the Lord would fight for them and they didn’t need to fear. Instead, they should go out and face the enemy the next day, and the Lord would take care of it. Admirably, Jehoshaphat didn’t question how this would happen or prepare a backup battle plan, just in case. He didn’t send his strongest, most experienced and heavily armed men first. Instead, verse 21 tells us that he appointed the leaders of the army to, “sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness.”  Verse 22 tells us that, “as they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes,” against their enemies (emphasis mine). When the men of Judah came within sight of the opposing army, they found them already dead! Here’s another example where timing wise, singing praise to the Lord is about the last logical thing to do, and yet, not only did it boost the morale of everyone involved and within hearing distance, it seems like there is a direct connection between the worship and the ensuing miracle.

What if God chose to provide the earthquake and subsequent salvation stories in Acts and Judah’s shocking and miraculous victory in 2 Chronicles because the men who loved God chose to trust and worship Him at their lowest and most frightening moments-when they weren’t sure what God had in mind, when from all appearances, God had abandoned them? The Bible talks about bringing God a sacrifice of praise in Hebrews 13:15. Worship through suffering is just that! When I’m in the midst of a painful trial, the last thing I feel like doing is thanking God and praising him for who He is and what He’s doing in my life, but that’s exactly what we’re called to do and exactly how the Lord fills us with His strength to face the trial. In her book, Living Beyond Your Feelings, Joyce Meyer reminds us that, “It is nice if we have feelings to support us when we are taking action, but we can do what is right with or without the fuel of feelings.” Like many of you, I’m in the midst of some difficult times. Too often, I get discouraged and begin to feel hopeless. But, we are not hopeless! We serve a God who routes armies, sends earthquakes, and rescues His people! So, I’m working on my sacrifice of praise, and I’m excited to see what God has in store! Will you join me?

Written by Amy Bertolini

This is the time of year the staff of Grace Christian Preschool and Kindergarten meets with mixed emotions. It is the last week of preschool, and kindergarten ends next week. While some of our students are returning in the fall, many will be moving on and it will be time to say goodbye. It has been such a blessing to have gotten to know each child and witness the growth that has taken place. We know that they are ready for the next step in their educational journey, but we will miss them!

Fortunately Dallas is still a small community where we will run in to our students and their families from time to time and when we do, it’s great!  I’ll be honest, the kids don’t always remember us, and even though we may struggle remembering a child’s name at times, we never forget them and the connections made with their families.  Once a child has been part of our school we consider them one of “ours”!

I don’t know about you, but the songs I learned as a child are the songs that have stayed with me as an adult. Every year we teach our students a special song with the hope that they will always remember it. The way we sing this song appeals to multiple learning styles because it encompasses the following:

  • Seeing a DVD of kids singing the song
  • Hearing the song, sung
  • Saying the words through song                         
  • Movement …doing the motions to the song

The song is one of our favorite passages of scripture; it’s John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will never die but have eternal life.

The song continues:  He is the way, He is the truth, He is the life so put your faith in Jesus Christ and your soul will never die, you’ll have eternal life!

Our prayer for all of our students is that sometime during their life the Holy Spirit will open their hearts to understand that passage and accept the wonderful gift He brings.

Written by Liz Fast of GCP&K

The last four months I have been co-teaching the world religions class.  As we have been studying these religions, there is one big thing that separates us as Christians, from all the other “religions”.  Our Lord is living, and active in our lives.  All we need to do is reach out to Him.  We have a relationship.  Our Lord wants to be an active part of our lives.  We have such hope.  In Revelations 22:13, He says “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  Our Lord was there at the beginning, He is here now in our present lives, and He is at the End.  Such comfort and hope.  He knew us in the beginning, he knew what we are capable of, and still wants us.  He is here in our everyday lives, seeing all of our little details.  He also said in Revelations 22: 7 and 12, “Behold, I am coming soon”.  Even knowing all about us, our thoughts, our doubts, and our inner lives, the parts we don’t let anyone else see. He still wants to be with us so much that in the last chapter in his book, He reminds us again that I am coming soon!

Written by Charisa Burbank

Have you heard of monovision? With monovision, you wear a contact lens on one eye to correct your distance vision and a contact lens on your other eye to correct your near vision.  The whole concept seemed almost unbelievable when I first heard about it.  I had also heard that it doesn’t always work for everyone.  Since I had trouble with either misplacing my reading glasses or forgetting to have them with me, when I needed to read, I was willing to give it a try.

For me, since I only need help with my near vision, I was given a contact lens in my left eye for reading and nothing in my right eye because my distance vision is fine.   My eye that sees well for distance is still blurred for reading and the eye with the contact lens sees well up close but is slightly blurred when looking at distant objects. But with both eyes open and working together the result is acceptably clear and comfortable vision at all distances!  Somehow, miraculously, my brain made the adjustment and my eyes work as a team to provide clear comfortable vision!

All this reminded me of our awesome creator! The human body is a remarkable miracle! Psalms 139:14 says, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 

As miraculous as our bodies are there is another miraculous body that God created, the body of Christ! Our God who gave our human bodies everything needed to function and be healthy is the same God who has given the body of Christ everything needed to function and be healthy.  It is exciting to know that every believer is a member of the body of Christ with Jesus as the head. God has given each of us different gifts and abilities.  Some members are more visible like the pastors, greeters, worship team etc and others are maybe not as visible but all are important and are needed to work together as Christ, our head, directs us. As believers each one of us has an important role and responsibility as members of His church.

Romans 12:4-5—For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body and each member belongs to all the others.

Written by Liz Fast – Director of GCP&K

A couple of days ago I posted on Facebook all that I had gotten done on Presidents day.  I slept in, cleaned, cooked, exercised, finished cake balls with Heidi, walked my parents dog, read, watch my favorite show on Netflix, and read the daily bible reading (honestly did this while during commercials of another television show).  I was so proud of what I had got accomplished in that day.   

For the last month and a half the staff that meet on Wednesday mornings have been going through a book called “When the game is over it all goes back in the box” By John Ortberg.  For this weeks reading, the chapter was called “Fill each square with what matters most”.  In the chapter he had an illustration, pretend your day is a large glass jar.  All of your “have-tos” are sand; laundry, work, paying bills, picking up around the house, errands, shopping and so on…  As you do each one you fill your jar up with more sand, sand, and sand.  But there are four tennis balls that you need to put in that jar also.  Each tennis ball has a letter on it, G, P, C and J. 

G- stands for God

P- stands for People

C- stands for Calling

J- stands for Joy

To really fill each day the way as God intended our life to be we need to have each one of these tennis balls in there, plus the sand, the “have-tos”.

Back to my day I mentioned up above, I realized there was very little “G”, and very little “P”, no “C, and hardly any “J”.

What would my life look like if I put all the tennis balls in first, and than filled it up with the sand of the “have-tos”.  What of the “have-tos” could I put off (they will always be there) and work on making sure the tennis balls get put in first.    When he has used this illustration in front of a crowd of people he talked about the tennis balls, and put them in first and than he filled the jar with all the sand, and it didn’t overflow.  God made it so we have enough time to put Him, people (relationships), our calling and joy first, and still do what we need to do.

Written by Charisa Burbank – Director of Children’s Ministry

JOY Redefined

Posted: December 19, 2012 in Staff & Ministry Leaders

The children’s Christmas program at Grace was amazing! The children and youth of GCC, under the direction of Amy, Suzy, Michele and Charisa, did a wonderful job of presenting a great message in a very entertaining way!! As I listened to the song of JOY being sung and watched the JOY signs being flashed about by our joyful trio, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the acronym.

J—Jesus

O—Others

Y—Yourself

There are so many wonderful things that come with Christmastime; Christmas trees, lights, family traditions, gifts but whether you’re 3, 4 or 5 like the students at Grace Christian Preschool and Kindergarten, or older, it is easy to lose focus or get so busy that we neglect to contemplate and celebrate God’s greatest gift, JESUS. It is also easy to become self-centered forgetting that they are so many people with needs; material, physical, relational and most-importantly spiritual needs.

During this Christmas season the emphasis at GCP & K has been Jesus.  Our service to others has been collecting food for those in need.  It is in the simple lesson, of putting Jesus first, and Others before yourself, that You will find your heart full of JOY!  I needed that reminder in my personal life and not just at Christmastime but all the time.  I am grateful to the children and youth of Grace for that important reminder.

Written by Liz Fast – Director of Grace Christian Preschool and Kindergarten