Sep 20 2009

The Impact of a Winsome Witness


I read this letter at Winnie Sawchuk’s memorial service. She served as the Grace Place Loveland office manager. One day a couple young adults stopped in the office. They were down and out. Winnie reached out to them and made an impression. Months later, May 4, 2009, a handwritten note was left in the door at the office. It read:

I imagine you don’t remember me. My friend, Montana and I came into your office not long after you opened. That is sort of my “area” so we stopped by to see what you were and why you guys had such a weird name.
Anyway, I heard that you were sick with cancer…I am so sorry. I can’t imagine how much that must suck. Just wanted to let you know that Montana (who is sleeping in a tent in Alaska currently – crazy boys) and I are thinking about you.
You have been sort of the piece of the puzzle that keeps standing out as not fitting in the church picture. I have met a lot of church people – a heck of a lot more than I would like to have. And I am” way too heathen” for them to do anything but pray at a distance… I don’t blame them for truly they are “freaking” more holy than me. But, you work for a church and you talked to us and answered our questions… and even offered us food – since there have been times the pain in the stomach combined with the “dizzy” in the head have made life miserable. This meant a lot.
Guess I just want to say “thank-you”. When I heard that place was a church I was biased against you, but you were nothing like a Christian. If ever I were to be a Christian at a church I would want to be on like you. One that even a “screw-up” like me could talk to.
These church people of yours better to taking good care of you.

(The letter is signed “Jess”)

Sep 17 2009

The Largest Shift Since the Industrial Revolution?



Currently at Grace Place we are in a series called Changed People Changing the World.  We are reviewing the last half of the book of Acts, including the first missionary journeys of the earlier Christ followers.  They went out with boldness in the power of the Holy Spirit, with the clear message of Jesus, against much opposition, but “filled with joy” (Acts 13:52) even when they were persecuted.  Everywhere they went something happened—either a riot or a revival!  During the first missionary trip (Acts 13-14) they traveled to the island of Cyprus and then in a loop across what is now modern day Turkey.  They traveled by ship and by foot primarily.  On the way out they planted churches and on the way back they revisited many of the congregations “strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith” (Acts 14:22).  This first trip took them about a year.

It is so inspiring to see the impact of those early missionaries.  But here is what’s blowing me away to think about: The apostle Paul hiked for days, rode ships for weeks, and spent years traveling around the middle east and Europe to speak the gospel in person to the numbers of people we can communicate with instantly with one click of a mouse button!  We are living in a radically changing world where we have the opportunity to touch people with the gospel like never before dreamed.  Consider the following facts:

  • Number of people living in U.S.=307 million; Number of people on Facebook=just over 300 million. Over 800,000 new users daily. Amazing.
  • Social Media has overtaken porn as #1 activity on the Web!
  • Years to reach 50 million users: Radio, 38; TV, 13; Internet, 4; IPOD, 3; Facebook added 100 million in less than 9 months!
  • If Facebook were a country it would be the 4th largest (after China, India, U.S.). But will pass U.S. in a few months.
  • Ashton Kutcher and Ellen DeGeneres have more Twitter followers than the entire population of Ireland, Norway and Panama.
  • Social Media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. 1.5 million pieces of content shared on FB–DAILY!
  • Social media: A fad or biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution? Data shared from

Each of those bullet points is 140 characters or less because I sent them all out this morning as Twitters.  My Twitter account is set up to automatically send to Facebook, so they went there as well.  Within moments I had several bite size conversations with friends from all over the U.S. regarding these facts.  Of course, I found them by following a link from Facebook to a blog, to a video on YouTube, to the socialnomics website… all within just a few minutes.

The first missionaries were seeking to 1) reach the lost with the message of grace in Christ Jesus; 2) establish, strengthen, buildup, and equip the saved.  We have the opportunity to do both of those things, reaching a wider and wider local and international audience through the digital technology—specifically through Social Media.

I resisted signing up for Facebook for awhile thinking that it would dominate my time (and it could if I let it).  But then I discovered that you can control the notifications you want to receive (via email or phone) and what you want to see on your private home page.  I also discovered Seesmic Desktop (and there are others such applications) that enables me to quickly scan my “friends” on both Facebook and Twitter (at the same time) without seeing all the games, quizzes, etc. (mostly nonsense in my humble opinion), but just see the personal notes.

You can keep resisting if you want.  I suppose there were people who insisted on still copying manuscripts by hand for awhile after the printing press was invented.  But eventually they stopped and eventually you will enter the new communications era too!

Here is my appeal to you. Regardless of whether you choose to use these avenues for evangelism, if you are a member or friend of Grace Place, your pastors want to communicate with you, encourage you, pray for you, know your joys and sorrows, and be your shepherds.  All the GP pastors are on Facebook and they want to be your friend.  So if you are on there, look us up. If not, get with the program!  I have learned so much about our flock by scanning the posts several times a day.  I don’t have time to read it all, but many times when we connect at weekend worship gatherings I’ve already been praying for people and we have an instant connection when we see each other as a result.

If you would rather follow what I write on Twitter (it also goes to Facebook which is way more interactive and conversational), you can sign up for Twitter (everything is free) and look over some of my 322 Tweets @claypeck (they’re will probably be more by the time you look).  If you really want to stay connected you can not only “follow” my Tweets, but click on the phone icon and have them come as texts to your phone.  Of course, that might be way to intimate and invasive for you, but my wife likes it!  I put up pictures and videos on Facebook, but use Twitter to (eventually) reach a wider audience and for the discipline of trying to say something meaningful in 140 characters.  Sometimes it’s something personal about what I’m doing or thinking… but mostly it is devotional thoughts from scripture or profound quotes or RT (retweets) that inspire me or stuff I’m taking notes on (from books, messages, webcasts, or other avenues)… many times it’s one liners I heard or made up that are going to be in this week’s message at church!  So you might hear them again.

If you’re reading this message, than you have a computer and an internet connection, so make sure you befriend your pastors via Facebook! It will help us do our job better as your shepherds.


Grace Place Facebook Page:

Sep 15 2009

Sweet Hour of Prayer


The following ap­peared in The New York Ob­ser­ver, Sep­tem­ber 13, 1845, writ­ten by Thom­as Sal­mon:

During my re­si­dence at Coles­hill, War­wick­shire, Eng­land, I be­came ac­quaint­ed with W. W. Wal­ford, the blind preach­er, a man of ob­scure birth and con­nect­ions and no ed­u­ca­tion, but of strong mind and most re­ten­tive mem­o­ry. In the pul­pit he ne­ver failed to se­lect a less­on well adapt­ed to his sub­ject, giv­ing chap­ter and verse with un­err­ing pre­ci­sion and scarce­ly ev­er mis­plac­ing a word in his re­pe­ti­tion of the Psalms, ev­ery part of the New Tes­ta­ment, the pro­phe­cies, and some of the his­to­ries, so as to have the rep­u­ta­tion of “know­ing the whole Bi­ble by heart.” He ac­tu­al­ly sat in the chim­ney cor­ner, em­ploy­ing his mind in com­pos­ing a ser­mon or two for Sab­bath de­liv­ery, and his hands in cut­ting, shap­ing and po­lish­ing bones for shoe horns and other lit­tle use­ful im­ple­ments. At in­ter­vals he at­tempt­ed po­e­try. On one oc­ca­sion, pay­ing him a vi­sit, he re­peat­ed two or three piec­es which he had co­mposed, and hav­ing no friend at home to commit them to paper, he had laid them up in the store­house within. “How will this do?” asked he, as he re­peat­ed the fol­low­ing lines, with a com­pla­cent smile touched with some light lines of fear lest he sub­ject him­self to cri­ti­cism. I ra­pid­ly co­pied the lines with my pen­cil, as he ut­tered them, and sent them for in­ser­tion in the Ob­serv­er, if you should think them worthy of pre­ser­va­tion.

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight:
This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise
To seize the everlasting prize;
And shout, while passing through the air,
“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”

Sep 10 2009

The Spirit-Filled Life


dove over earth Holy Spirit

What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?  What is the difference between a Natural Person, Spiritual Person, and Carnal Person?  Do you know which one you are?  God wants us to experience the “abundant life”, walking in the Spirit, fellowshipping with the Spirit, and experiencing the power and gifts of the Spirit.

Read this short and informative Bible study by Bill Bright called “Have You Made the Wonderful Discovery of the Spirit-Filled Life?

Sep 3 2009

This is Revival



“When men in the streets are afraid to open their mouths and utter godless words lest the judgments of God should fall; when sinners, overawed by the Presence of God tremble in the streets and cry for mercy; when, without special meetings and sensational advertising, the Holy Ghost sweeps across cities and towns in Supernatural Power and holds men in the grip of terrifying Conviction; when “every shop becomes a pulpit, every heart an altar, every home a sanctuary” and people walk softly before God—This is Revival!”

Please continue reading this fascinating and convicting paper on the characteristics of true revival by Owen Murphy.  It is written in old fashioned language, but compelling and as needed day as ever—more needed I believe!  Murphy talks about various revivals of the past two centuries, but keeps returning to his own experience in the Hebrides Revival.

Off the west coast of Scotland is a small group of islands called the Hebrides. Between 1949 and 1952 a wide spread revival swept through these islands in answer to the prayers of God’s people. Instrumental in this revival was the evangelist Duncan Campbell. He came to the Isle of Lewis to conduct a two week evangelistic campaign and ended up staying two years.

Read on: