Jan 22 2011

Many Thanks

clay

After successfully defending my final doctoral thesis & project yesterday at Denver Seminary, there are many people to thank.  Below is the acknowledgments page.  Many supportive friends are not listed by name, because I only identified those who were actually involved in some way with the project or specifically encouraging me to complete it.  If you are a part of Grace Place congregation, though, you are one of those being thanked.  Appreciate you all!

Acknowledgements

Richard Fredericks, Ph.D, who is a scholar, mentor and friend who has marked my life and inspired me to be gospel-focused and a lifelong student.

Robert Peck, D.Min., my father, who set the example by completing his doctorate while continuing his employment as a busy pastor and administrator.

Current and former trustees of Grace Place who provided accountability and encouragement (and prodding) along the way: especially Gary Sumner, constant supporter; Jodi Walsh Ph.D. and prayer warrior; Wayne Dorband, Ph.D. who offered assistance and provided helpful advice; Gary Hamor, helping me see the difference between tactical and strategic thinking and cheering me on, along with volunteering hundreds of hours to help me and the Grace Place staff improve our leadership.

Joe Ryan, a trustee, friend, businessman, who loves Jesus and his church passionately. Joe volunteered as consultant and facilitator for this process, invested time and heart, and was used by God to speak straightforward and needed words.  I am forever indebted to Joe for the results of this project!

The Senior Leadership Team: Rose Pauly (during the planning process), Brenda Pearson, Steve Kurtight, Mark Johnson, Gregg Chaddic, and Micheal Butts (during the implementation phase), who did the hard but rewarding work of prayerfully seeking God’s heart for Grace Place, while drawing close together as comrades.

Steve Kurtright, for research assistance on chapter two, for theological perspectives, and for writing the core values drafts (over and over); Amber Baker for research assistance on chapter three; Gail Shumacher and Suzy Bullett for insights and analysis on the REVEAL Spiritual Life Survey; Mark Johnson, accountability partner and assistant, (“how can I help you finish?”), setting deadlines (which I rarely met), gathering information, and patiently nudging me forward..

First reader, Dr. James Fred Creason who patiently gave attention to detail and forced me, through many re-writes, to come up with a vastly better end product.

Denver Seminary professors, especially Dr. Harold Westing, who introduced me to strategic planning for the church; Dr. Scott Wenig, second reader, for encouragement; Dr. David Osborn, director of the doctor of ministry program, for teaching me research principles and patiently prodding me to the finish line.

The entire Grace Place staff who contributed to the process at every step; and the ministry leaders who were (brutally) honest and also insightful in helping the leaders recognize the needs of the congregation.

Grace Place congregation for granting me the resources and time to pursue and finally finish this project.

And of course, and especially, my wife Selene, who has been my dear friend and constant supporter for 28 years. Thanks for believing in me!


Jan 12 2011

Extending a Helping Hand

clay

It was such a joy to see the generosity of Grace Place church recently when we collected over $32,000 and distributed all of it to people with severe financial needs.

48 families were helped:

  • 35 families with utilities, food, rent, basic needs
  • 5 families with car repairs, such as brakes, tires, etc.
  • 3 single women with new “used” vehicles
  • 5 families with medical costs

Here are snippets from just three of the many notes of thanks that came in:

  • “Thank you for reaching within the family of Grace Place to help the body.  The love that continues to flow from Grace Place has such a blessing to us.  When we opened the envelope from Grace Place we both started to cry because we have been praying for God to supply our needs.  He has used Grace Place to reach out to us and encourage us to keep praying. We cannot thank you enough for being obedient to listen to God’s leading.”
  • “I just received a Christmas Blessings check from Grace Place and was completely blown away.  My mouth was actually hanging open. I did not put my name in with any requests… Thank you to you and the church and whoever made the decisions as to where the Christmas blessing money would go.  Thank you for all your love and support.”
  • “When I checked my mailbox and there was the Christmas Blessing check from Grace Place. I was stunned! I just stood there with tears in my eyes staring at the check, wondering if it was real! Then an ear-to-ear smile crept across my face and I just started thanking God for His impeccable timing and goodness! Thank you to you, Grace Place, and the generous and loving people who make up the congregation! I am overwhelmed!”

This is real church in action!  It reminds me of the early church:

“There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” (Acts 4:34-35)

 


Jan 9 2011

Fellowship of the Unashamed

clay

I am part of the “Fellowship of the Unashamed.”  I have Holy Spirit power.  The dye has been cast.  I’ve stepped over the line.  The decision has been made.  I am a disciple of His.  I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.  My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.  I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals!

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.  I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded.  I now live by presence, lean by faith, love by patience, live by prayer, and labor by power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my guide reliable, my mission clear.  I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed.  I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up or slow up till I’ve preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus.  I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops.

And when He comes to get His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me… my colors will be clear.


Jan 3 2011

A Digital Fast

clay

When I decided to do a one week digital fast, it sounded easy.  But digital technology is so ingrained in everyday life these days that it can be harder than it sounds.  Here are a few reflections from a digital fast:

  • There is more opportunity to pray, think, dream, plan when you are unplugged. During the last week I received some profound impact the way I live and lead during the following year.
  • Digital technology includes way more than I first thought. Originally, I planned to quit doing email, Facebook, and Twitter during the week long fast.  But then it dawned on me that “digital” includes iPad, iPod, TV, and phone! If/when I do this again I will have to think it through more in advance.  I ended up using all of those digital mediums until I realized they were also “digital.”  Although I didn’t use my computer, I did answer a few emails on my phone because I was afraid someone would think I was blowing them off, or I thought of something really important I wanted to pass on to someone.
  • I wasn’t able to make it a full week. I decided to go on Facebook on New Year’s Day to wish all my friends Happy New Year’s and ended up making a few comments beyond that!
  • Digital communications might be crowding out important things. It is way easier to start the day checking messages than meditating on God’s Word.  But the first will not change my life like the second.
  • Digital communication is valuable. For all its drawbacks, who would ever want to go back to a world where you couldn’t learn and communicate quickly?  For that matter, who would want to go to the mall or department store with your spouse if you didn’t have a cell phone?
  • Digital communication is personal. Some people predicted originally that communication that wasn’t face-to-face would not build true relationships. That has been proven wrong. Sure, digital communication has its disadvantages (e.g, you can’t hear voice inflection and tone, or see body language), but face-to-face relationships are enhanced by the ability we have to share our lives with others today through social media, texting, email, blogs, etc.
  • Digital communication is necessary. It is the way we do communication today and it is extremely effective if you keep up.  Today I spent nearly four hours responding to last weeks messages.
  • Digital technology is not going away. It is improving at the speed of light!  It is the way of life for our generation.  It enables us to do research in seconds, communicate with thousands at once, find news and entertainment anywhere and anytime… but it can also take over our lives and become a constant distraction, it can contribute to a shallow walk with the Lord rather than a deep and abiding relationship that comes through prayer and reflection on his Word.

Like most things in life there must be evaluation, correction, discipline, and balance to stay healthy mentally and spiritually in a digital world.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, TNIV)