Mar 22 2016

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).

May 21 2013

Exciting News!


Potential GP Land
Grace Place is potentially relocating to this beautiful and visible (by 1000s of cars traveling on the by-pass near Berthoud) property. Please join us in prayer for God’s guidance and blessing.

Dec 26 2012

How to Stay in Love for Thirty Years:


While Selene and I were in NYC celebrating our anniversary, many people acted surprised that two people can still be in love after 30 years. A few asked us what the secret was. I could make a longer list, but here are a dozen keys I jotted down during our return flight:

1. Commitment. Take the vows seriously. Marriage is a covenant not just a contract. It is a covenant–not just between two people but with God. Rule out divorce and then never use the "D" word as a threat or possible solution (even if you don't mean it).

2. Priority. Put spouse ahead of all other human relationships-parents, siblings, friends…and kids! Be attentive to your spouse’s needs, dreams and aspirations. Don't discuss the private details of your relationship with others (unless it is a professional counselor).

3. Communication. Lots of talking and more listening. Every day. Debrief the day–highs and lows. Know and feel each other's emotions. Care. Talk respectful and kind. Never use profanity or degrading language.

4. Conflict Resolution. Take initiative when feelings are hurt. Try to be the first to apologize even if you don't feel you are in the wrong. Forgive and forget. Don't hold grudges or bring up the past when it is resolved. Don't go to bed mad. Make that promise to each other and keep it!

5. Time Together. Quality and quantity. Some time every day. Plan and protect a weekly date night (or date day). Make it fun, something to look forward to. You can't become best friends if you don't spend your best time hanging out together. Plan periodic romantic getaways alone together. Play!

6. Be Affectionate. Hug and kiss daily. Hold hands in public. Call, text, email through the day and say "I love you" over and over every day.

7. Make Decisions Together. Trust each other to make small decisions alone, but if in doubt, or if it is a big decision, make decisions together. Work together on a family budget and support each other.

8. Compromise. Be unselfish. Learn to enjoy what your spouse enjoys (or at least try).

9. Be Realistic. Don't expect your spouse to meet all your needs or want to be involved in all the same things you enjoy. You need same sex friends to talk to and do things with.

10. Guard Your Relationship. Don't flirt or be alone with members of the opposite sex. Don't be close friends with someone of the opposite sex unless it is as couples.

11. Focus on the Positive. You can talk yourself into or out of most anything. Practice thinking positively about your spouse. Remember what first attracted you. Focus on what you like. Ignore what you don't like (unless it something hurtful that can be changed). Believe in and build each other up and you will both become better people as a result. Never comment on something you don't like that can't be changed (i.e., physical appearance).

12. Put God First. Worship and pray together. Don't keep your walk with the Lord private. Share. As you both get closer to him you also get closer to each other. When tough times come push together and let it grow you faith in God and love for each other.

Nov 9 2012

A Letter to the Community


Dear Friends,

We have completed another election and are thankful as Americans for freedom of speech, for the democratic process, and for those who fought for us to have the rights and privileges we enjoy. An election campaign is also a divisive season across our nation and even in our neighborhoods. Now is the time to move forward, reunite, and think about how we can work together to make our community a better place.

Grace Place is initiating a simple "Caring for Berthoud Community Survey"  to understand better how we, along with other churches, organizations, families, and individuals can better serve our community. Through one-on-one interviews, through the mail, online or by email, we hope to hear from you. The questions are simple:

• What are the biggest needs facing your neighbors or the community at large?
• How can the church better serve the community?
• How can we pray for you and your family?

My wife and I moved here 16 years ago to start Grace Place. We were newbies at first, but over time we’ve come to love this community and recognize that the people care about each other and rally around those in need.

Christmas in Berthoud is just around the corner, and it is one example of how businesses, churches, and others serve together to contribute tangible help to families who are suffering financially. We hope that, based on the results of this survey, we can find ways to keep the spirit of Christmas in Berthoud going all year long!

If you don’t have a church family, you are welcome every weekend at Grace Place, and we especially invite you to a special new series we are beginning in January called The Story: Finding Your Story in God’s Story. Incorporating curriculum for all ages, families can journey through the fascinating stories of the Bible chronologically. Many people will travel through the Bible for the first time and have their lives dramatically transformed for the better as a result.

Wishing you a blessed holiday season,

Pastor Clay

Sep 13 2012

Fall Series at Grace Place


Where are you right now in your spiritual journey? Are you drifting backward or shifting forward? It doesn’t take any effort, only neglect, to drift. But to shift forward takes intentionality! At Grace Place we are determined to be a community of Christ-followers who are experiencing spiritual transformation—changed people changing the world.

Join the journey this fall as we explore how SHIFT happens. This season is going to be all about developing a growing, vibrant, thriving, meaningful, life-changing relationship with Jesus…BEING TRUE DISCIPLES.

Take just a moment and honestly consider the health of your soul. See if there are any words on these lists that describe where you are right now. Which list is more true of you?

• Some symptoms of soul neglect include self absorption, shame, apathy, toxic anger, physical fatigue, isolation, stronger temptation to sin, drivenness, feelings of desperation, panic, insecurity, callousness, a judgmental attitude, cynicism and lack of desire for God.

• Some symptoms of soul health would be love, joy, compassion, giving and receiving grace, generosity of spirit, peace, ability to trust, forgiveness, discernment, humility, creativity, vision, energy, balance and focus.

If you are a follower of Jesus, than God is doing a work of transformation in you. He promises to finish it, telling you to be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippian 1:6).

But unlike your initial salvation, which is based solely on the already completed work of Jesus, your spiritual transformation is dependent on you partnering with God. You must “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). That doesn’t say to work for your salvation. You could never accomplish that (Ephesians 2:8). It says “work out.” In other words, cooperate with what God is doing.

During this series we are reflecting on SOUL CARE, what types of spiritual practices will help us stay connected to Jesus and enable us to live a God-honoring, high-impact, purpose-driven, life-changing, fruit-bearing life as we seek to become changed people changing the world.

Aug 11 2012

The Prayer of Saint Patrick


Saint Patrick, who lived in the fifth century, was originally from Britain. He was captured and shipped to Ireland, which at the time was a violent, dark land of warlords and Druids, and endured six years of servitude as a slave. During captivity, he turned to God in prayer, and he emerged with a strong, unbreakable bond with Jesus. He grew spiritually deep and wise, and gave himself in service to the Lord. He escaped his captors and returned to Britain. Later, God strongly led him to return to Ireland as a missionary. His courageous ministry, braving danger at every turn, ushered Christianity into the entire land. This powerful prayer is attributed to him:

I arise today

Through the strength of heaven;

Light of the sun,

Splendor of fire,

Speed of lightning,

Swiftness of the wind,

Depth of the sea,

Stability of the earth,

Firmness of the rock.

I arise today

Through God’s strength to pilot me;

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s hosts to save me

Afar and anear,

Alone or in a multitude.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today

Through the mighty strength

Of the Lord of creation.

Jul 12 2012

Persecuted Christians Feel Abandoned By American Churches


Congressman Frank Wolf, a committed Christian from Virginia, has been an outspoken advocate for international human rights for the past 30 years. After visiting hotspots for persecution and human rights abuses from around the world, he was asked if America—especially the churches in America—were failing the oppressed peoples of the world. Wolf replied:

“I meet many people [from around the world] who are baffled and concerned that the West doesn’t seem to be that interested in their plight. Three nuns from Iraq just came to my office. They said they feel abandoned. Half the Christian community in Iraq is now living in ghettos in Damascus, Lebanon, and Jordan.

“I was in Egypt last month. The United States has given the Egyptian government over $50 billion [since the late 1970s]. And yet the Coptic Christians have been persecuted during that time. If you’re a Coptic Christian in Egypt, you can’t get a government job, and you can’t be in the military. They wonder why the church in the West hasn’t spoken out.

“In China, you have roughly 30 Catholic bishops who have been arrested. You have hundreds of Protestant pastors and house church leaders being imprisoned and persecuted.

“The church in Sudan has suffered persecution. In southern Sudan, 2.1 million people have died—mainly Christians, but also some Muslims and some animists. I had one woman tell me, ‘The West seems more interested in the whales than in us.’

Interview by Susan Wunderink, “Q & A: Frank Wolf on Liberty for the Captives,” Christianity Today (11-17-11)