All posts by sdesocio

New Demo

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Our Hospitality Team

A few weeks ago I gave this rambling explanation during our greet time, and I thought it deserved a followup.
Grace & Peace is a deliberately informal church. But we never want informality to fall into carelessness.
Each week we have an extended time to greet each other, and to share words of peace and reconciliation. It is a joy to see friends and loved ones each week, but please remember that we exist so that people far from God would come closer to him. So, if Grace & Peace is your church home, I would encourage you to intentionally use our greeting time to seek out the people you know the least.

All that to say: if you’ve worshipped with Grace and Peace more than twice consider yourself part of our hospitality team.

Guiding Our Worship

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At Grace and Peace, we are constantly trying to have our lives, and our worship, shaped by God’s word. It is our conviction that Elders are accountable for what happens in worship, but that worship isn’t meant to be a performance done by the Elders. This is why we invite members and friends of G&P to participate and lead different parts of our service. In the past, while many have participated, there has been one worship leader, guiding us through the whole service. This person has been the first to greet us and often the last to bless us as we leave. In the past, Robbie or I have been the defacto worship leader. Now that Robbie is transition out, the elders and I have decided that it would not be good for me to be the only one leading from here on out.

This means that going forward we will invite two or three people to guide us through parts of our liturgy.

The rough outline will probably look something like this:
Someone will greet people and make the announcements and they will guide us through the prayer of invitation. Then someone else will read the second scripture passage and guide us through our time of confession. Then after we come back together after our pray and greeting, whoever is preaching will lead the rest of the service. For the next few weeks, this will be a bit of trial and error as we figure out what is the most conducive to our worship together.

Regardless of how many people help facilitate worship, Jesus is the one who leads us into the Father’s presence.

I’m praying that God uses this time to remind us that worship isn’t a performance that earns us favor with God. It’s a gathering of friends and family around what God has done and is doing.

If you have any questions or thoughts; or if you might be interested in helping more with worship, email Sam.

Small Changes and Big Impacts

I saw this video this morning and was impressed by just how wonderfully balanced ecosystems can be. But, it also got me thinking about how we don’t realize how important small changes can be.

Lots of us wish we had a different interaction with God. Or, we wished that we had more time for prayer, or devotions. But don’t miss the significance of small changes. Whether its putting a bible verse on a post it and sticking it to your bathroom vanity or having a short prayer before we head into work,

Just remember that small moments can make a significant impact.

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5 Steps toward Prayer

I’ll go ahead and confess something: I feel guilty about my prayer habits. Pastors are supposed to be about prayer and the word, and I never think that I’m praying enough. But, that’s not my real problem. My real problem is that I don’t take that guilt to God, and so I let it fester.

1. Take your prayer shame to God.

Any part of your life can go off the rails, including your prayer life. But, we believe in the forgiveness of sins. The Apostle John reminds us that: if we say we are perfect we deceive ourselves, but if we confess our sin and failing to Jesus that he is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us. If you are feeling guilty about your prayer life, I invite you to pause from reading right now, and confess your prayerlessness. He **will forgive **you.

2. Don’t promise to pray just pray.

When someone says, “please pray for me,” I invite you–at that moment –to say, “can we pray right now?” If you say, “Oh I’ll be praying for you,” will you really? If you do, you’ve got a better memory than I do. It easy to talk about prayer, but guess what if you can talk about something then you can pray about something.

3. Write down prayers

I don’t have a great memory. So, I try to collect prayer’s throughout the week so that I can be in regular prayer. At the end of this note, I’ll include a pdf of the little booklet that I use for prayer request. This little book is also a great way of not feeling overwhelmed or guilty about your prayers. I’ve written down days of the week and then I pray for different requests on different days (of course, I do pray for somethings more regularly.)

4. Steal time to pray

Sure it’s great to schedule times of prayers, but there is nothing wrong with stopping in a stairwell, or pulling over on the shoulder and praying for something that is really bothering you. These short spontaneous prayers aren’t a replacement for longer times of prayer. See it more like a roadside emergency kit, which you can access when needed.

5. Connect the Bible to Your Prayers

I was recently reminded that prayer isn’t the beginning of a conversation with God; it’s a response to what God has already said, and done for us. The more we can find ways of starting with God’s word, the easier it will be to see how we ought to respond to him in prayer.

booklet

Here is that link to my prayer on page booklet (here is a video on how to cut and fold the page ) I hope these are helpful to the life of our church. And I can say with all sincerity, I’m praying for you. =)

November Song of the Month: Satisfied

Each month we try to introduce a new song. This month we are singing Satisfied, by City Hymns.

Here is a sample of the song:

And here are the lyrics:

All my life long I had panted for a drink from some cool spring
That I hoped would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longings, through his blood I now am saved

Feeding on the filth around me, ‘till my strength was almost gone
Longed my soul for something better, only still to hunger on
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longings, through his blood I now am saved

Poor I was and sought for riches, something that would satisfy
But the dust I gathered ‘round me only mocked my soul’s sad cry
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longings, through his blood I now am saved

Well of water ever springing, Bread of Life so rich and free
Untold wealth that never faileth, my Redeemer is to me
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longings, through his blood I now am saved

 

from Fragments of Grace, released 15 June 2011
……
Words: Clara T. Williams, 1875
Music: Karl Digerness, 1997
©1997 Karl Digerness Music

 

Two Aspects of Walking with God

Last Sunday we began talking about walking with God. The Apostle John says that, in Christ,  we have the ability to have fellowship with God, and to walk with him. These two images are deeply personal and intimate. (Anyone who has happened to be walking too close to  a stranger  knows how connected the two ideas can be.) This Sunday’s sermon text will again use the language of walking with God.

Because of this, I wanted to expand on a few things we have to keep in mind when walking with God.

On the one side, we have to realize that God is the one setting the pace and planning the trip. In the book of Acts, we find a story where the Apostle Peter in his own mind has set the pace for the expansion of the Kingdom. He had decided to accept ceremonially unclean Jews (like the Simon the Tanner would have almost certainly have been), but saw gentiles as too far gone. While he is at Simon’s house, he sees a vision where God lower down a banquet of food out of heaven, full of items that would have been considered off limits in the Old Testament. Peter refuses to eat any of the food which God himself has prepared for Peter. He says to Peter, “Don’t call un-pure what I have said is pure.” Finally, after this happens three times, God gets Peter to see that God has made a turn in how he interacts with his people. What we have to take from this story is that when we walk with God we have to do so with flexibility.

If I can be honest. I hate this part. I’d much rather prefer to be in charge. I want to slow down, when I want to slow down. I want turn when I want to turn. Its akin to saying I want to steer my car when, in fact, I’m on God’s train.

The second thing that we have to consider when we travel with God comes from the book of Revelation. In that book, there is the image used of Jesus as a king riding into battle vanquishing his enemies. The passage says that Jesus is single-handedly winning the Spiritual war which entangles the cosmos. Behind him rides his people. (Before anyone you get the wrong idea remember the words of Paul, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil)

Now consider the image just a little closer: who is out front winning the battle? Jesus.

And what are his people doing? Well, they are riding.

We can take from this image two ideas. First, Jesus is out front. He has said elsewhere, “I will build my church.” So, we can’t fall into the trap of thinking that we are on the front lines. The second thing that we learn, and almost by accident, is that we are called to follow him and to not simply stay in bed. Think about the image again, Jesus is riding ahead and he is winning the conflict, but his people are still obediently riding behind him. Even though they aren’t the ones doing the fight. If I were in this situation I might be tempted to say, “Jesus if you’re the only one fighting then why do I have to get suited up for combat? Can’t I just stay here?” This teaches us that part of walking with God is keeping pace with him as he leads us.

I pray that as you go about your daily lives that you would be willing to keep pace with Jesus, turning when he turns never willing to simply sit in camp while he is on the move.

Two Pastors at a Church Plant?

Lots of churches have multiple pastor, but most often they are medium-size churches looking to handle the needs of their local church. Grace & Peace has two pastors, but with a slightly different vision in mind.

Robbie is on staff with us as a Church Planting Resident. While you might not have heard of this term before, I bet everyone gets the idea. Carpenters and Doctors have mechanisms for providing more experience before they set out on their own. This is what we are trying to offer Robbie.

In this way, it might be best not to look at Robbie as another permanent pastor at Grace & Peace but as a pastor temporarily stationed here as a Resident. Over the next three years, Robbie will serve in our church, but his work in our church in to help him develops the skills needed to begin another church plant.

At the start of his time, Robbie will be assisting me around the church and working on assigned projects that will help him think through church planting. Towards the end of his time, he will transition out of regular work in our congregation and will begin focusing on making more detailed plans about where he will plant.

We are so glad to have Robbie serve at our church. Please offer him your prayers and respect. At the same time, keep an eye on the fact that soon we will be sending him out Robbie and Jen as church planters.

New Song for June

This month we will be introducing a new song, with a traditional tune. The name of the song is Come Away from Rush and Hurry, and its set to the tune of Come thou Fount. I first heard it while I was down at the Global Church Advancement conference in January. Josh Bales was leading the singing down there and included this song.

We are introducing this song because so much of our modern life is a series of frantic moves from one thing to the next. Often there is no time to stop. We hope that as we sing this we are reminded that because of the greatness of God we can rest in him and trust that tomorrows worries can be dealt with tomorrow.

Here is a copy of the sheet music, for those musically gifted folks who can read such gobbledygook :)

We happen to have found a version of the song on youtube sung by Josh: