“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

In 1865 a young minister was on a trip to the Holy Land. On December 24 he rode by horseback to the little town of Bethlehem. He attended a five hour service held in the ancient basilica built over the traditional site of the birthplace of Jesus. Listening to the hymns, scripture readings and prayers in that service, he was deeply moved.

Phillips Brooks was a beloved pastor who was often seen sitting on the floor reading Bible stories to the children of the church. Three years after his trip to the holy land, the little ones were planning a Christmas program. He wanted to write a new song for their program. Looking back to the inspirational moments he encountered in Bethlehem, he quickly penned four verses. He then gave those lines to his church organist.

The organist tried to put music to the words and nothing came to him. He went to bed and awoke to a melody ringing through his head. He quickly jotted down the notes and went back to sleep. That next morning he completed the tune. That December night in 1868, for the first time, the children sang the beloved hymn, “O Little Town Of Bethlehem.”

This Christmas, what will be our response to the nativity story. We have been challenged by Dave to think beyond ourselves and material things. It is a strong challenge. I recently heard a man talk about a substantial gift he gave to a ministry to the homeless. He said that as he walked away from meeting with the director of the ministry, with tears in his eyes, he realized there was a sense of joy that could never be matched by anything the he could have bought for himself. No toy, trinket or treasure could come close to the satisfaction of knowing that lives were going to be changed forever in the name of Jesus.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” Matt 6:33-34 (The Message)

May our response to the Christmas story be a sense of giving as we have been given so much by our heavenly Father.

“We hear the Christmas angels,

The great glad tidings tell

O come to us, abide in us

Our Lord Emmanuel”

Written by Ken Stoller – GCC Elder

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

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

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

Image  —  Posted: October 31, 2013 in Staff & Ministry Leaders

Praying Like a Child

Posted: October 26, 2013 in Pastor Posts

This coming Sunday is the last session of our series PrayerMaster: Learning to Pray Like Jesus. Wednesday morning, my daughter reminded me about an important aspect of prayer that I had forgotten. It was an Ah ha moment. This probably could become a sermon in and of itself. However, I will limit it to a blog post this morning. In the sermon series, we have been looking at 3 prayers of Jesus, to learn how we should be praying. In that context, we must not forget another significant lesson that He taught. This is a lesson that isn’t limited to prayer specifically. However, it is not one be isolated from prayer either.

Mark 10:13-16 – “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”(Emphasis mine).

The teaching is fairly blunt. Reading between the lines, I hear Jesus saying, “If you continue to be consumed by your adult mindset – your tasks, needs, doubts, responsibilities, fears, rational thinking – you will not have the ability to live a ‘kingdom centered’ life.” And isn’t that true? Don’t we allow these things to distract us, to discourage us, to unnerve us, to make us question?

What about when it comes to prayer? What would it look like to pray like a child? Well, Wednesday morning I received a picture of that. I was walking my 3-year-old daughter Callie Sue from my office over to her preschool class. As we were walking across the parking lot she saw an ambulance drive by. She immediately said, “Daddy, we need to pray for the people in the amblience (the 3-year-old way of saying ambulance).” Before I could even say “good idea,” she started praying. She prayed the most authentic and heartfelt prayer I have ever heard. She said, “Dear Jesus, please help the people on the amblience to be okay. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Yes, it was brief. But, what is left to say? She said what she needed to say. And she talked to Jesus the way she would talk to me, her Daddy. And just like she believes that her Daddy is Superman and can fix every problem (something that is very hard to live up to, by the way), she prayed with the same trust and assurance that Jesus could fix the hurting people in the “amblience.”

So when we pray, let us remember that we can pray like a little child talking to her dad! Trust that God has it under control. Because unlike her daddy who really can’t fix everything, Callie’s Heavenly Daddy can and one day will!

Written by Pastor Dave

A New Perspective

Posted: October 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

One of the hardest things that I find difficult about being a Christian, or for a better term Disciple, is facing everyday with a good attitude. Let’s face it, the world is not exactly rainbows and flowers all the time. Bad things happen every day. Difficult situation arise every day. We fight battles every day.

As Disciples, we are called to a higher standard. The “world” knows this. The “world” knows that we are Disciples and should be dealing with our situation with a higher standard, a positive outlook and a good attitude. I’m not sure about you but I don’t necessarily fit that profile all the time. In fact the only true Disciple who could do that is Jesus, so I will count my blessings that he gave me grace to cover my short comings in regards to my attitude. So where am I heading with this?? One word…. PERSPECTIVE!

The great thing about being a Disciple is that we have a tool box, the Bible, to guide us in our perspective. Our Father gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us in every situation we face, no matter how difficult. The Holy Spirit can and will change our PERSEPECTIVE.

The Book of James is a great example.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Jms 1:2-4

No matter what the circumstance we need to change our PERSPECTIVE. Consider it a privilege to go through trials. By changing our view and how we look at things, we can overcome anything. As Pastor Dave preaches on the topic of “prayer” the next couple weeks, let’s take the time to pray for PERSPECTIVE.

I leave you with two things. The first one is my favorite quote, which helps me through tough times, take it for what its worth…

“A good attitude will not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” Herm Albright

The second thing is a link to a video that I would like you to take the time and watch. Some of you may already be familiar with this man and his story, but he knows PERSPECTIVE!

Written by Matt Graber – GCC Member