Sep 27 2018

The Back of the Boat


Clay Peck: The Back of the Boat


If you’re going to try and get proper rest and renewal there are going to be some distractions and obstacles to overcome. We live in a fast-paced culture and many of us are addicted to busyness. We’ve got to learn to spend some time at The Back of the Boat.

I get that from the example of Jesus. In Mark 4 Jesus was teaching by the sea of Galilee. The crowds grew quickly when Jesus started teaching, telling thought-provoking parables. So Jesus climbed into a boat for a little platform, and some separation from the press of the crowd. He stood on the front of the boat teaching (for probably hours), until he was exhausted.

We pick up the story in:
Mark 4:35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

After teaching all day about sowing and reaping, farmers and mustard seeds, Jesus was tired. Maybe the disciples wanted to ask him questions about what he said and debrief the day, but Jesus waved them off and made his way to the back of the boat. He found a pillow and went to sleep. So fast asleep that he kept sleeping even when a serious storm blew in.

A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! (Mark 4:37-38, The Message)

In the midst of the storm Jesus keeps on sleeping. I’ve seen a lot of artwork of Jesus, many scenes from the Gospels… but I’ve never seen a picture of Jesus sleeping! But Jesus became fully human. He ate, he worked, he laughed, he took restroom breaks… and he slept.
Sleeplessness is symptom of a person who is overcommitted. Some of us tend to think of sleep as a waste of time, but the fact is, we are more productive when we get good sleep.

Jesus was intentional about maintaining a rhythm of on time and off time. Jesus taught on the bow of the boat (on time) but rested in the back of the boat (off time). Back of the boat time is not optional if you want to be a healthy person. You must find ways to establish margin in your life.
Richard Swenson, in his book, The Overload Syndrome, states:
“Margin is the space that once existed between our load and our limits. Margin is the space between vitality and exhaustion. It is our breathing room, our reserves, our leeway. It is the opposite of overload.”

Many of us unfortunately are trying to live without margin. We’re running on empty. We’re not just tired, we’re depleted. (There’s a difference. If you’re tired, a nap will take care of it. But if you’re depleted, you must find a way to get replenished.)

Sep 26 2018

Eight Families of Emotions


God created humans to feel a wide range of emotions. Researchers have classified them into:

Eight families of emotions:
Anger (fury, hostility, irritability, annoyance)
Sadness (grief, self-pity, despair, dejection, loneliness)
Fear (anxiety, edginess, nervousness, fright, terror, apprehension)
Enjoyment (joy, relief, contentment, delight, thrill, euphoria, ecstasy)
Love (acceptance, trust, devotion, adoration)
Surprise (shock, amazement, wonder)
Disgust (contempt, scorn, aversion, distaste, revulsion)
Shame (guilt, remorse, humiliation, embarrassment, chagrin)

These emotions are normal. In order to be emotionally and spiritually healthy, we must be willing to feel and process these emotions—not deny them. God created us as emotional beings. He has emotions too!
In the Bible we are told of God’s delight, regret, jealousy, anger, love, compassion, sorrow, joy… and more. We are created in his image.

You’re not going to have a spiritual breakthrough if you’re in denial or pretending; if you’re shutting down your humanity all the time since you’ve convinced yourself it’s not okay to have these feelings.
Allow yourself to feel! Allow yourself to feel the full weight of your emotions so that you can mature emotionally and spiritually. This is an important part of embracing your true identity.

A couple ways to do this include:
Paying attention to your emotions through silence and solitude. As a part of your devotions, consider taking time to be quiet before God and reflect on your emotions. To feel the full weight of them and to process them with God. Consider writing about it in a journal. A record that you can refer back to and see how God has been speaking truth to you. King David journaled and processed his emotions with God—the highest highs and the lowest lows. And we have some of those journal entries to learn from in the Psalms.
It is also valuable to process some of your emotions with trusted friends. What makes you angry, sad, afraid? What makes you excited, joyful, grateful? Screw up your courage and talk about your emotions with trusted friends.

Sep 24 2018

How to Embrace Your True Identity


Shape my identity by the truth of God’s Word
Did you notice how Jesus faced the devil the same way with every temptation? What were the words he repeated? “It is written…it is written…it is written.” Because he had stored the truths of God’s Word deep in his head and heart, he could speak out the truth of God’s Word to counter the temptations of the enemy.
This is the number one way that we can reprogram our thinking in order to be true to our identity as children of God. We need to know the truth and tell ourselves the truth over and over!
Who I am in Christ? I am accepted, secure, significant. How do I know? God has told me so in his love letter, the Bible.

Learn to know my true self and be true to myself
“Put off your old self…and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22,24).
This idea of shedding the old self and putting on the new self in Christ is at the heart of emotional and spiritual maturity. You can’t get close to the Lord (or others) if you’re not in touch with who you are, especially if you’re pretending to be someone you are not.

Many of us unconsciously live someone else’s life because we don’t know who we are. That negatively impacts ourselves, our relationship with God, and our relationship with others.

Contrast that with the example of Jesus. Jesus knew who he was and was true to himself. Because he was secure in his Father’s love and approval, he was able to withstand enormous pressure. Although he loved people he was not a people pleaser. Just consider who he was willing to disappoint in order to be true to himself and to his mission:
He disappointed his family (left them waiting outside when they wanted to see him); he disappointed his hometown folks (they actually tried to throw him off a cliff); he disappointed his closest friends (Judas was so disappointed that he betrayed him); he disappointed the crowds (they, like his disciples, wanted an earthly Messiah to liberate them from the Romans); he disappointed the religious leaders (they were jealous of incensed by the large crowds who came to listen to him).

Jesus was not selfish. But neither was he selfless. From a place of deep personal security in his Father’s love he was emotionally mature enough to know his true self and be true to himself.

Sep 21 2018

Three Temptations to Accept False Identity


I am what I do (performance)
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” (Luke 4:3)
Jesus hadn’t done any miracles yet. He spent the first 30 years of his life as a carpenter. The devil tempts him to find his identity in what he can do. “Prove you’re worth something; demonstrate that you have value. Achieve something. You’re hungry, turn this stone into bread.”
We are all tempted to form our identity around what we can do, our achievements, our performance, our success.

I am what I have (possessions)
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” (Luke 4:5-7)
We live in a culture that defines success by possessions. What do you own, where do you live, what do you drive? We tend to measure ourselves by comparisons to others.
It’s a false identity to form your self-worth by what you own or what you can buy. You’ll never find satisfaction. You’ll always want more. And you’ll be stalled both emotionally and spiritually if you’re living with a false identity.

I am what others think (popularity)
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. (Luke 4:9)
If Jesus would’ve jumped off the highest point of the temple and survived, that would’ve impressed the crowd. The temple was almost 200 feet tall—twenty stories! He would’ve been instantly popular.
To form our identity based on what other people think, based on our popularity, has always been a temptation. But even more so today in the era of social media. Everyone has a platform now to present themselves to the world. Of course, what you see on social media is not the whole story. It’s the highlight reel. Sometimes it’s a pretend story. And yet so many are caught up in their number of “followers” and “likes.”

People are making a whole living of it. If they can convince advertizers that they have a sufficient following on Instagram or YouTube, they can make money.

Just as the devil tempted Jesus to base his identity on performance, possessions, or popularity, he brings the same temptations to you and me. I must intentionally resist conformity, and instead Embrace My True Identity.

Sep 19 2018

Finding Our True Identity




  • I am a child of God whom he loves

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

Have you received Jesus? Have you believed in his name? Have you put your faith in him as Lord and Savor? Are you one of his followers? If the answer is NO, I encourage you to receive him. You’ll never regret it. If the answer is YES, then that makes you a child of God. That’s your true identity. Before any other identity, you are a child of God. Why does he want you in his family? Because of love.

  • God is well pleased with me – not because of who I am, but because of whose I am

Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. (John 8:35)

When you become a child of God you are in the family. You belong forever. Do you stop loving your kids when they mess up? Do you kick them out of the family if they disobey? Not if you’re a good parent. And God is the ultimate good parent, our Heavenly Father. He’s not well pleased with you because of your perfect track record. And that’s not his expectation. He’s pleased with you because you are his child. Not because of who you are but because of whose you are. You’re a son or daughter and you belong in the family forever!

Here’s the deal, though: Satan doesn’t want you to live into your true identity. He knows that people who see themselves as a much-loved child of God are a threat to his purposes! So, he’ll do what he can to change your identity if possible, to distort it!

That’s exactly what happened to Jesus. Immediately after the baptism of Jesus, after hearing the Father say, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased,” came a series of severe temptations; the devil tried to get Jesus to reject his identity as a son of God and embrace a false identity.


Sep 17 2018

Embracing My True Identity


We launched Grace Place at Berthoud High School 22 years ago this weekend. Happy birthday and anniversary church!
And from the very beginning we have seen the value of small groups for spiritual growth, fellowship, love, care, support, and belonging.

I got inspired for this series as I was reading a book called: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Peter Scazzero. The subtitle of the book is: It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. The more I considered that concept the more I came to agree with that premise. One of the reasons we get stalled spiritually is because we have also gotten stuck emotionally.

The most important first step in a Spiritual Breakthrough is for me to Embrace My True Identity. Most of us struggle with this. But it is critical to making both emotional and spiritual progress. 

Our key text is found in Luke 3 and 4 – the baptism and temptations of Jesus.

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)

Here’s what I want you to know and believe: When you become a child of God he feels the same way about you. He says to you: “You are my son; you are my daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” This is your true identity!
Now, you might be thinking, he may love me, but he is not ‘well pleased’ with me. He’s probably regularly disappointed in me because of my failures and screwups!”
Today I’m going to challenge you to reject that way of thinking and replace it with truth.

Sep 11 2018

Walking Through Holy Week: Jesus’ Journey to the Cross


The entire life of Jesus was a prelude to the events and teachings during His final week, especially His death and resurrection. One half of all four Gospels focus on the final week of Jesus’ ministry, signaling that this is the key to understanding everything about Jesus’ mission. They slow way down and absorb us in the details—especially from Friday to Sunday.

Holy Week:
1. Sunday: The Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the day each Jewish family was to select their Passover lamb. Jesus enters through the “Golden Gate”—the gate of the Messiah, as a great crowd proclaims: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” In less than a week many in that same crowd will shout: “Crucify Him!” (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29- 44; John 12:12-19)

2. Monday: Jesus curses the fig tree for having leaves but no fruit, then cleanses the Temple, clearing the money changers out of the “court of the Gentiles,” declaring: “My Father’s House is to be a house of prayer for all people—but you have made it a den of thieves!” The dye is cast. Both the Priests (Sadducees) and the Pharisees (Teachers of the law) determine to kill Jesus. (Matthew 21:12-19; Mark 11:12-18)

3. Tuesday: The last day of public teaching and debate as Jesus speaks in parables of Himself as God’s Son, by whom all will be saved or judged. Jesus makes some of His most memorable statements as He faces down the religious leaders and thwarts every verbal trap they lay—finally pronouncing seven woes upon them (Matthew 21:23-23:39; Mark 11:27- 12:34; Luke 20:1-21:4; John 12:20-50)

4. Wednesday: On the Mount of Olives, Jesus prophecies His Second Coming and Final Judgment and the events leading up to that Day. Jesus is anointed by Mary and Judas secretly agrees with the Chief Priests to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. (Matthew 24:1-26:16; Mark 13:1- 14:11; Luke 21:5-22:6; John 12:2-11)

5. Thursday: The disciples prepare the Upper Room. At the Last Supper, Jesus introduces the reality of the New Covenant (acceptance with God) established through the shedding of His blood. He points to Himself as the true Vine, teaches His disciples about the Holy Spirit and prayer His great final prayer. Then comes the agony of Gethsemane, where the fate of humanity hung in the balance as Jesus sealed His determination to drink the cup of divine judgment for our guilt. (Matthew 26:14-46; Mark 14:12-42; Luke 22:7-46; John 13:1-18:1)

6. Friday: The early morning [dead of night] arrest and betrayal by Judas’ kiss, the triple denial by Peter, Jesus’ illegal, mock trial before Caiaphas, then Pilate, then Herod. The flogging and the multiple beatings. The crown of thorns. Pilate’s judgment seat and the crowd choosing Barabbas—and Caesar for their king. Then the crucifixion between two thieves. In those six hours of suffering (9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.) the salvation of God is offered to humanity.

There are seven declarations to Christ’s innocence (His perfect righteousness), seven wounds on His body (His perfect sacrifice) and seven statements from the Cross (His perfect teaching). Jesus extends acceptance and assurance to a repentant dying thief. At mid-day it becomes midnight! Three hours of supernatural darkness signal Jesus’ descent into the outer darkness of damnation: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

At 3:00 p.m. (the hour of the Passover sacrifice) Jesus dies as the “Lamb of God.” There is an earthquake, the centurion confesses his faith (“Surely this was the Son of God!”) and the veil is torn from top to bottom just as Jesus proclaims that salvation is accomplished: “It is finished!” After His death, Nicodemus and Joseph bury Jesus in a new tomb in a garden. (Matthew 26:47-27:61; Mark 14:43-15:41; Luke 22:47-23:56; John 18:2-19:42)

7. Saturday: The Jewish leaders break the Sabbath to insure that the tomb sealed and a Roman guard posted; as Jesus spends His final Jewish Sabbath “resting” in death. (Matthew 27:62-66; Luke 23:56)

8. Sunday: Shortly before dawn on the “first day,” the stone of the tomb is rolled away by a mighty angelic hand. Jesus steps forth in Resurrection power, triumphant over sin, death and the devil. His resurrection is God’s confirmation of Jesus’ all-sufficient victory, assuring that entrance into God’s eternal Kingdom is the present possession of all who trust in Him. The angels tell the women at the tomb: “He is risen!” Jesus appears to Peter alone, to the two on the Road to Emmaus, and to His disciples in the Upper Room. (Matthew 28:1-17; Mark 16:1-14; Luke 24:1-43; John 20:1-25; Romans 4:24-25)

 Walk this week with reverence and prayer. We are traversing Holy Ground.

“By this Gospel you are saved… For I delivered unto you as of first importance that which I received: that Christ Jesus died for our sins, according to Scripture, that He was buried and He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures.”
1 Corinthians 15:2-4

Sep 29 2014

A Season of Prayer and Fasting


Dear Grace Place Family,

You are invited to meet for prayer over the next eight Tuesdays at 7:00 am; 12:00 pm; and/or 5:00 pm, September 23—November 11.

Several times in the Bible leaders proclaimed a fast in order to seek the Lord with intensity and focus. Here’s one example:

Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you…” Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. (1 Chronicles 20:2-4)

The leader learned about a serious threat and his first inclination was to invite his people into prayer and fasting. If you keep reading that story there was a spectacular miracle that happened as the people put their trust in the Lord and he supernaturally delivered them.

I’ve been sharing with you about the escalating construction costs due to the current economic condition due to so much construction going on in Colorado. This feels like an overwhelming threat right now, but your leaders are convinced that God has a plan to show himself strong. God has given us a vision that includes relocation to our new land. I believe that he desires us to really want it and prove it by telling him about it in prayer!

So I’m proclaiming a fast. I plan to meet and pray with whoever shows up during meal times on Tuesdays. Fasting is about abstaining from something for the purpose of dedication and focus on prayer. You might give up one, two, or three meals. You might give up something else that could be a distraction (such as TV or social media).

I like this description:

“Fasting in the biblical sense is choosing not to partake of food because your spiritual hunger is so deep, your determination in intercession so intense, or your spiritual warfare so demanding that you have temporarily set aside even fleshly needs to give yourself to prayer and meditation.” Wesley Duewel

If you can show up at Grace Place, come to the front of the auditorium where we will make a prayer circle. Our prayer times will be one hour or less. You do not have to pray out loud to participate. If you do pray out loud you do not have to say more than a sentence or two. Up to you! This is a time to seek the Lord for personal and corporate spiritual renewal, for those on our hearts who are lost, and for his miraculous intervention on behalf of Grace Place. If you can’t join in person, consider joining from your home, car, or office.

Let’s seek the Lord together!

Pastor Clay

Aug 18 2014

The ‘One Anothers’


There are 59 “One Another” commands of the New Testament. As you read through this list it becomes obvious that it is impossible to obey these commands (not suggestions) if you stay isolated and alone. Christ followers are called into his ekklesia. That’s the Greek word for “church.” Ekklesia was originally “a gathering of called out ones.” The church is not building, a worship services, programs, or staff. The church is a committed family of relationally connected people who experience Christ in the context of loving community.

1. “…Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)

2. “…Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)

3. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)

4. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)

5. “…Love one another…” (John 13:35)

6. “…Love one another…” (John 15:12)

7. “…Love one another” (John 15:17)

8. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10)

9. “…Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)

10. “Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)

11. “…Love one another…” (Romans 13:8)

12. “…Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)

13. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7)

14. “…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)

15. “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” (Romans 16:16)

16. “…When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33)

17. “…Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25)

18. “…Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20)

19. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (II Corinthians 13:12)

20. “…Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

21. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.” 
(Galatians 5:15)

22. “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26)

23. “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)

24. “…Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

25. “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)

26. “…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32)

27. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)

28. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

29. “…In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
30. “Do not lie to each other…” (Colossians 3:9)

31. “Bear with each other…” (Colossians 3:13)

32. “…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13)

33. “Teach…[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)

34. “…Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)

35. “…Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)

36. “…Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9)

37. “…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)

38. “…Encourage each other…” I Thessalonians 5:11)

39. “…Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)

40. “Encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13)

41. “…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)

42. “…Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)

43. “…Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)

44. “Don’t grumble against each other…” (James 5:9)

45. “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16)

46. “…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)

47. “…Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)

48. “…Live in harmony with one another…” (I Peter 3:8)

49. “…Love each other deeply…” (I Peter 4:8)

50. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9)

51. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” (I Peter 4:10)

52. “…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…”(I Peter 5:5)

53. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (I Peter 5:14)

54. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:11)

55. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:23)

56. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:7)

57. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:11)

58. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:12)

59. “…Love one another.” (II John 5)

Apr 18 2014

What is Good Friday About?


cross copy

Jesus was crucified at 9:00 AM on Friday. During the firsts three hours the sun shone. Even in his pain and agony, Jesus focused on others—the soldiers, the thief, his mother. But at noon darkness fell upon the land—unexplainable. At his birth there was brightness at midnight; at his death there was darkness at midday. God shielded his Son’s greatest suffering. And the darkness was an object lesson of the wages of sin and separation from God. Hell is sometimes referred as “outer darkness.” And Jesus experienced hell for you on the cross.

Death on a cross was the worst possible death–reserved only for the most despised criminals. Polite Romans considered it an obscenity to even say the word “cross.” No one was wearing cross necklaces! Jews considered a person hanging on a cross to be under the curse of God based on the law found in Dt. 21:23.

But what happened to Jesus was not just a painful and degrading formof punishment; he suffered the wrath of God against every person’s sin.

• He became a curse, as he bore our sins (Gal. 3:13)
• He gave his life as a ransom for sin (Mark 10:45)
• “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

This made the death of Jesus different from anyone else’s death and the worst possible death. As our substitute he bore the penalty for sin in himself, feeling separation from the Father, tasting death for every person, experiencing hell, crying out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus went as far as it took down that shaft into the darkness to save you—“even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). For three hours the sun refused to shine, as if even nature couldn’t bear to look on the terrible scene. As Christ mysteriously became sin for us, the darkness of the sky was an outward symbol of the spiritual darkness that enveloped him. Darkness symbolizes separation from God who is light and in whom “there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).