God’s Relentless Pursuit

October 3, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

This past Sunday during our musical worship time, we sang a song called Reckless Love. To lead into this time, Dale read a devotional from First 15 Devotional.

I wanted to share it with all of you…

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God’s Relentless Pursuit – April 2 (First 15 Devotional)

 

So often we view God as an enforcer of religious rules. We see the commands of Scripture as a list of to-dos rather than a path leading to abundant life. But those perceptions aren’t the truth of Scripture. Those beliefs are founded on misguided notions of God’s character. God is after the heart. More than he wants us to do right, he wants us to see him rightly. He wants going to church, reading the Bible, worshipping, serving the poor, and living righteously to come from a heart filled with a true revelation of his loving-kindness.

The foundation for our faith is not meant to be built on our works or our understanding, but rather on God’s relentless pursuit of us. We have relationship with our Creator not because we sought him out, but because he is always pursuing us. (“We love because he first loved us 1John 4:19”) Any elements of Christian spirituality at work in our lives are the result of his constant grace drawing us deeper and deeper into the abundant life Jesus died to give us. Faith built on anything else but God’s pursuit is faith built on our own strength—an unsure and consistently failing foundation. Ephesians 1:16-18 says:

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.

There is nothing we could do to keep God from pursuing us. There is no sin too great, no distance we could run, that would discourage God from loving us. From the moment you were born God has been pursuing your heart. His greatest longing is for relationship with us. Don’t let a wrong understanding of who God is cause your relationship with him to be works-based. Don’t let your sin and failures get in the way of running to the open arms of your heavenly Father. God is after your heart right now. He’s sweetly knocking on the door of your heart that you might simply let him in.

Let’s worship.

 

 

 

 

 

Lectio Divina- “Divine Reading”

January 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

As we continue in our series Walking with Jesus, we will be exploring scripture through a practice called Lectio Divina or “Divine Reading”. You can participate individually and as we go through the process during our weekly Bible study.

Below is a description of how to apply this practice to daily scripture reading.

 


Lectio Divina: “Divine Reading”

Lectio Divina, or “Divine Reading,” involves meditative listening to the reading, out loud and slowly, of a short passage or a few isolated verses of Scripture. It can be down on your own or with a group. Those who listen are encouraged to set aside analysis, and what they “know” already about the passage, seeking instead to open themselves to God’s word, listen with their hearts, and receive it expectantly and passively. They then attend to what they receive from God. God’s word is received personally, as an individualized gift to each person.

Lectio Divina, on your own

  • Choose a short Scripture passage for your meditation, and it is to be read out loud slowly. Quiet yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to guard and guide your meditation.
  • First reading. One-minute silent reflection before God. Take notice of whatever captures your attention in the passage or in your inner experience.
  • Second reading. One-minute silent reflection. Listen for a single word or phrase that particularly strikes you.
  • Third reading. Three to five minutes of silent reflection. Listen to how the passage seems to touch your life experience.
  • Fourth reading. Three to five minutes of silent reflection. What do you feel the passage might be inviting you to do? What is God inviting you to be? How is God inviting you to change? Spend some time in prayer over what you received from God’s word, and give thanks for his gift to you.

Lectio Divina, with a group

  • Begin. One participant opens with a brief, spoken prayer.
  • Read. Another participant reads the passage aloud, slowly.
  • Reflect.  
After one minute of silence each participant writes down an answer to the question, “What word/phrase caught my attention?”
  • Share. 
Each participant shares his/her word or phrase without comment.
  • Read.
 Another participant reads the same passage aloud from a different translation.
  • Reflect. 
After three to five minutes of silence, each participant writes down an answer to the question, “Where does this passage touch my life experience?”
  • Share.
 Each participant shares his/her answer in turn, without comment.
  • Read.
 A third participant reads the passage aloud from yet another translation.
  • Reflect.
 For three to five minutes participants write an answer to the question, “From what I have heard and shared, what is God inviting me to be? How is he inviting me to change?”
  • Share. 
Each participant shares, beginning, “I believe God wants me to …”
  • Pray.
 Each participant then prays aloud for the person on his/her right, praying only for what that person expressed in the prior step. (Option: each person continues to pray for that person throughout the day or evening.)

Notes for group Lectio Divina

  • Leader preparation: Select a short passage of Scripture. Having three translations available will add richness, but this is optional. Allow approximately 25 minutes for a group of five, longer with more participants. A digital timer or stopwatch is helpful.
  • Group preparation: None, except access to pen and paper.

Source: Material adapted from Sacred Companions by David Benner, 2002 by John Smed, Grace Vancouver. Materials used with permission, Redeemer Prayer Conference, June 2006.

 

 

 

 

Grace Family Fellowship Night of Worship & Prayer

September 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

I just want to remind everyone that we are having a Night of Worship & Prayer at the church at 7:00pm.

I know the weather is bad, but it is always a good time to focus our hearts and minds on our incredible God. I hope you can join us!

 

Grace Family Fellowship Bible Study– July 6th & July 20th

July 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

This month we will have a Bible Study on Wednesday July 6th and Wednesday July 20th. The study runs from 7:00pm until around 8:30pm. In July we will meet at Beverly Foley’s home at 883 Bobolink Drive.

Here is a map with directions from our church:

 

Questions For God: Eyes On Eternity

June 2, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

As we continue our series focusing on Randy Alcorn’s book The Treasure Principle, we have been looking at some “Questions for God” each week in our Wednesday Night Study.

The purpose of these “Questions for God”  is to prompt you to honestly approach your heavenly Father with uncertainties, fears, joys, and new discoveries. I encourage you to pray these questions to your Father, and note any responses He provides through His Word, the Holy Spirit, or wise fellow believers.

 

1) As I move toward death, am I backing away from my treasure, or moving toward it. Am I living in despair, or in joyful anticipation?

2) I recognize the potential my passions and desires have to cause great harm or to achieve great good. God, will You help me direct my treasure and my passions toward You and Your eternal purposes? 

Questions For God: Compounding Joy

May 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

As we continue our series focusing on Randy Alcorn’s book The Treasure Principle, we have been looking at some “Questions for God” each week in our Wednesday Night Study.

The purpose of these “Questions for God”  is to prompt you to honestly approach your heavenly Father with uncertainties, fears, joys, and new discoveries. I encourage you to pray these questions to your Father, and note any responses He provides through His Word, the Holy Spirit, or wise fellow believers.

 

1)    Do I really believe that You have made me to be a giver? Am I convinced that I will feel Your pleasure when I give? God, help me to believe and to trust You enough to give.

2)    God, am I treating You as owner and CEO of “my” assets, or am I treating You merely as my financial consultant, to whom at best I pay a fee in the form of offerings?

A Description of “Biblical Community”

April 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Last week in our Sunday service, we looked at the stunningly beautiful community experienced by the early church in Acts 2:42-47. We saw how committed these believers were to one another and how powerfully that community impacted those around them.

As I was preparing for the message last week, I received an e-mail from an organization I really like called TRUEFACE. In it, they included a review of a book they wrote called Bo’s Cafe.I read this at our church meeting last week because I love the way the writer draws out the essence and beauty of real, authentic community… And I wanted to share it here because I believe it is an excellent definition for the kind of community we are called to in the Bible.

“Community—a place where we belong and are accepted—even when we do all we can to make others believe that we aren’t worthy. Community means standing together with each other, fully recognizing and disclosing our own blemishes and accepting others in the humility of knowing their path is not much different than our own. But, much more than that, a community of grace gently insists that we are lovingly honest with each other and ourselves about our sin and our needs. In openness and vulnerability, we can lay it all out on the table, and in return, receive a depth of love and protection that we never imagined. This, in turn, leads to the freedom to be transformed and truly move into maturity.”

Holly C ~ Amazon Review Bo’s Cafe

Spiritual Gifts

October 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

How can I discover my spiritual gifts?

Last week we talked about how God gives spiritual gifts to those in the church so that they can be used to build up the body of Christ.

Below is some information you can use to help discover what your gifts are– they are the notes we will use in this week’s Bible Study.

1 Corinthians 12:1

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.

There are many different tools to help us discover our spiritual gifts. I have selected an on-line tool that I found to be easy to use and helpful.

Think of this as a starting point to learn about different spiritual gifts and the gifts you may have. The best way to determine spiritual gifts is not a test or assessment like this, but rather, serving others in the body and having them affirm your gifts as you use them.

Go to:                        www.spiritualgiftstest.com/test/adult 

Click on the “Continue as a Guest” button. 

The test will come up.

Answer each of the questions and follow the prompts.

Print out your results  (there is a “Print your Results” button on right side)

Read the “definitions” of your top 3 gifts

 Bring these results to the small group on Wednesday (10/14/15) to discuss.

Here are some questions to consider:

1)    Was this a “hard” test for you to take? If “yes” why do you think it was?

2)    Do these gifts surprise you? Why? Why not?

3)    Can you think of an example when you were able to use this gift to serve others in the church/body?

4)    How could you use these gifts to “build up” those around you in the church?

5)    How have you seen others use their gifts to build you up?

6)    How can you use your spiritual gift this week for the benefit of others in your church?

 

Exploding Back to Life

August 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

For the last few months, I have been working with a several employees in a local company. My role is to serve as a Dream Manager.

What is a Dream Manager, you ask? Well, it doesn’t have to do with analyzing stories of sitting in a college classroom for an examination that you didn’t study for or trying to run away from a monster while getting stuck in molasses. It’s not about those kinds of dreams. Instead, we try to identify the personal dreams that people have for their lives—and then determine some steps to move in the direction of achieving them.

It has been a very interesting process. It is amazing how much people can accomplish with some focus, structure and encouragement.

One of the highlights, so far, has been walking alongside Heidi. Heidi has written poetry for years and has dreamed of organizing her poems to begin to share them with others. In one of our sessions, I asked her if she would be willing to read one of her poems to me.

She agreed. Here is Heidi’s poem. She wrote it after she began to explore her own dreams and aspirations in our Dream Manager Pilot Program. I asked Heidi if I could share it with others and she agreed to this as well.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…

Exploding Back to Life

Lying dormant for so long

Life just passing by, just going through the motions

-Smile, say “hello” someone is coming

And then even they are passing by

Another day, another year gone

 

A stirring – what is that?

A ripple starting deep inside

Growing bigger, creating chaos

Something not felt for a long time

Go away, ignorance is bliss

But still, the stirring grows

 

Joy erupts, happiness – what a real smile?

Peace flows into every part of me, of my life

Feelings not felt for so long

Explode inside, bringing life back

Too much, too fast

Overload, overload

 

Breathe, be calm, it’s ok

See, still in one piece

A gentle whisper – “Trust Me, it is and will be ok”

One step at a time

Bringing me closer to where I need to be – Your hug

Further from where I should not be – alone

 

June 9, 2015

You Shall Not Make For Yourself an Idol

October 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Currently, we are studying the Ten Commandments during our Sunday services.

This week we looked at the second commandment where God prohibits making a worship idols. It can be easy to dismiss this commandment as irrelevant when we consider idols as statues, totems, and parts of creation (the sun, moon, etc.). But idols come in many different forms and we should consider what may be idols in our own lives.

Here are some questions to ask to determine who/what may be an idol for you.

1) What do you want, desire, crave, and long for?

2) What have you done to get those things?

3) When do you say, “If only”?

4) What have you done to make “if only” come true?

5) Where do you find refuge, safety, comfort, and escape?

6) Whom must you please?

7) What do you believe you can’t live without?

8) What have you done to get, keep, or protect that thing?

As we ponder these questions honestly, I believe that God will help us to see where we may be struggling with this commandment– and lead us to the only answer to overcoming them: Jesus.