Nov 25 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

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Grace Place Congregation:

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’re already listening to Christmas music at our house (thanks to my Christmas-fanatic wife).  I look forward to Christmas too, but Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it is way less commercial and intended to be all about giving credit and gratitude to the One to whom we owe everything.  I encourage you to take some time on Thursday to thank God for the many blessings of this year.

The past several months at Grace Place have been a time of spiritual renewal and new energy—not the kind we can produce ourselves, but the kind that comes from the presence and blessing of the Lord in our midst.  I want to thank those of you who have agreed with me and other leaders to pray regularly, seriously, expectantly, and persistently for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, homes, and church!

Here are a number of important things I want to bring to your attention as we approach the end of the year:

Interview with Astronaut Joe Tanner

This Sunday, November 29, I’m looking forward to interviewing Joe Tanner, who flew on four space shuttle missions and spacewalked seven times!  The message is title, “To God be the Glory,” and you will be fascinated with video, pictures, stories, and a unique perspective on faith and the Creator of the universe. (There will be a potluck at 5:00 PM in Loveland before the 6:00 PM service).

Festival of Trees/Christmas in Berthoud

Grace Place teams up with the town of Berthoud this year again on Dec. 4-5 to Celebrate Christmas as a community and raise funds for local families who are struggling financially.  Be sure to bid on a tree or wreath at our Berthoud campus or in many of the local businesses in the town.  Also there are many other activities to participate in, including the women’s ministry brunch and Steve Desmond Christmas concert.  Volunteers are needed in a number of serving roles. Contact the office for details or go to www.christmasinberthoud.org.

December Teaching Series

I can’t wait for you to hear about some of the incredible miracle stories that have been happening in our congregation.  The December teaching series is called, “The Unexpected: Miracles Still Happen.”  We’ll be examining miracle stories in the book of Luke and hearing testimonies from Grace Place members who have experienced the power of God’s healing touch—physically, mentally, and spiritually.

New Loveland Campus Worship Time

Starting December 13, we are moving the worship time at Loveland High School two hours earlier to 4:00 PM.  After listening to the congregation for some time now, it seems that this time may work better for people’s rhythm of meal times and getting smaller children to bed in time to get their sleep for school in the morning on Monday.  There were several important reasons for moving our Loveland location from TVHS to LHS and going to an afternoon/evening time for this season.  I really appreciate those of you who have been willing to try something different and be flexible for the sake of the mission.  Remember, the reason for a gospel outpost in Loveland is not just for convenience or another option for the already convinced, but to take our worship gatherings closer to friends and neighbors further north who need Jesus!

Christmas Eve

This year we are returning to Thompson Valley High School again for one Christmas Eve service at 4:30 PM, December 24. This one hour service is designed to inspire believers and challenge seekers.  My message is entitled: “Nothing is Impossible with God” (as the angel told Mary when it was announced that she would give birth to the Son of God although she was a virgin).  Bring your friends and family!  An offering will be taken at the doors as you leave—100% of which will be given away to help those who are struggling financially, both inside and outside our church family.

Life’s Healing Choices

Please be praying about your involvement during the Life’s Healing Choices spiritual adventure coming in January-February.  Based on the eight beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5:3-10), we are going to learn helpful tools for finding deep personal healing and freedom from hurts, habits, and hang-ups.  The basic outline for this study was developed by Rick Warren, pastor and author of the book, The Purpose Driven Life. The material, when applied personally, has helped many thousands find greater freedom and victory in their lives.  It is the basis for the Celebrate Recovery program, but presented in such a way that every person will find rewarding benefits.  Please pray about whether you will host a small group in your home for eight weeks.  All of our hosts will be supplied with a DVD of Rick Warren teaching for 25-30 minutes, and booklet with discussion questions for each lesson.  Your Grace Place pastors and leaders believe that this is a unique opportunity for us to cooperate with the Lord in going deeper in our spiritual walk with God and each other than ever before.  Join in!

Year End

We all know that this has been a rough year economically for many.  We continue to pray for those who have lost jobs and are struggling.  The church has also been impacted by the downturn in the economy which has forced us to make some cutbacks in ministry and staffing.  Our staff and ministry leaders are being very frugal and careful about expenditures.  For the second year in a row the staff will not be receiving pay raises in January or Christmas bonuses.  As we seek to be careful stewards of the resources God entrusts us with, at the same time, we see many new opportunities for serving others and reaching out with God’s love both locally and beyond.  A strong offering in December is needed to rebuild reserves and fuel ministry and outreach as we start the new year.  God does not call us all to give the same amount, but to give according to how his has blessed us. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12). Please pray about whether you may be able to give an extra year-end Christmas gift—above and beyond your regular, percentage-based tithes and offerings. Partnership with God pays rich dividends!

Selene and I count it a privilege to serve you, as do our all our pastors and staff.  Thanks for responding to the challenge to seek the Lord with new eagerness and intensity.  Good things are in store.  We love you!


Nov 16 2009

Are Facebook Friends Really Friends?

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In a New York Times magazine article (“Facebook in a Crowd,” 10-26-08), Hal Niedzviecki reflected on social media sites—specifically, Facebook. Soon after starting a Facebook account, Niedzviecki had accumulated about 700 on-line “friends.” In his own words, he was “absurdly proud of how many cyberpals, connections, acquaintances, and even strangers I’d managed to sign up.” But he went on to point out that due to a 2-year-old at home, his “workaholic irritability,” even his love of being left alone, he had fewer in-the-flesh friends to hang out with than he’d ever had before. So he decided to have a Facebook party to push his virtual friends into actual friends.

Niedzviecki invited all 700 of his “friends” to a local bar for a party. People could respond to one of three options: “Attending,” “Maybe Attending” and “Not Attending.” Fifteen said they would be there, and sixty said they might be there. He guessed somewhere around 20 would show up.

He writes about what happened next: “On the evening in question I took a shower. I shaved. I splashed on my tingly man perfume. I put on new pants and a favorite shirt. Brimming with optimism, I headed over to the neighborhood watering hole and waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually, one person showed up.”

And the one woman who showed up to meet Niedzviecki? He didn’t know her. She was a friend of a friend. They ended up making small talk and then she left.

Hal waited till midnight but no one else showed up. So, he ordered a beer and sulked. He concludes his article with these words: “Seven hundred friends, and I was drinking alone.”  (via hal@brokenpencil.com)

Here’s my take on this story: Niedzviecki NEEDS A CHURCH FAMILY!  The people I see who are connected and church and on Facebook are truly connected.  Sure, not all your “friends” on Facebook are truly “friends.”  And sure, not everyone you know at church is truly “family.”  But those who choose to really participate in a healthy local church develop a true family that shows up!


Nov 12 2009

Interview w/ Astronaut Joe Tanner

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Joe Tanner Flyer blog