May 22 2012

What is True in Christ… GOOD NEWS!

clay

The message of the New Testament book of Hebrews can be summarized by three Great Flags of the Reformation that can be seen throughout this book:

1. There is no other High Priest — But Christ.
“The point of what we have been saying is this: We… have… a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven… Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.” Hebrews 8:1; 7:24

2. There is no other Confessional — But the Throne of Grace.
“Since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God… Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:14,16

3. There is no other Sacrifice — But Calvary.
“Unlike other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins ONCE FOR ALL when he offered himself.” Hebrews 7:27

These great truths must have come as a great relief to Hebrew Christians who were weary of the endless ceremonies and rituals. They should also come as a relief to us who are so prone to fall into trying to work our way into God’s favor.
BECAUSE OF THE NEW COVENANT, WHICH WAS RATIFIED BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST AT THE CROSS, every believer receives the following benefits:

• In Christ… We can rest from our own futile attempts to save ourselves.
“For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” Hebrews 4:10

• In Christ… We have been made perfect.
“By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:14

• In Christ… We have full assurance.
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience…” Hebrews 10:22

• In Christ… We have total security.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19


Apr 2 2012

New Series Begins at Grace Place on Easter

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Jan 4 2012

The Authority of Jesus

clay

This weekend at Grace Place we began a new series, “The Authority of Jesus.” The nation of Israel had long awaited the prophesied Messiah-King, but how were they (or we) to know when he arrived? The prophets foretold that he would take charge and set up a kingdom, that he would command authority both through his words and his deeds. In Matthew 8-9 there are a series of 10 miracle stories designed to show the authority of Jesus—complete and absolute authority over all things including disease, demons, danger, disability, and death. Jesus proved that he was the Messiah-King. The important question: Are we willing to summit to his authority in our lives?


Jan 1 2012

Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?–REVISITED

clay
I just read this blog I posted two years ago and was encouraged to see that I had accomplished my goals–for the most part–especially, and finally, the doctoral degree.  I’m inspired to set new goals for the coming year, but only according to these guidelines.  A new year can be a helpful opportunity to look again at priorities and make helpful adjustments–assuming there is a plan formulated and implemented to achieve any goals that are made.  Happy 2012!
Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?
Dec 30 2009

new-years-3

 

It appears that the tradition of the New Year’s Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. January 1 became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars had. The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god with two faces. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new.

Even though January 1 is just another day, it is helpful to have opportunities for evaluation and fresh starts.  More than half of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions even though, much less keep them!

Someone said, humorously, “A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other.”  A resolution is usually not kept unless it is a realistic goal that is accompanied by a written action plan.

I’ve found over the years that I’m much more likely to follow through on goals if I:

1. Order Priorities

Think and pray about what is most important in life and what on that list needs to improve in my life.

2. Be Realistic

It is easy to get overly optimistic on January 1 and set yourself up for failure.  For example, “Get out of debt” is an excellent goal, but it might be an unrealistic goal if you are so far in debt that you really need a five year plan to accomplish it.  So, breaking it down to a doable objective is essential. Set goals for a few things you are committed to accomplishing, not for everything you wish you could do or become.

3. Create a Written Plan

Goals without plans are just wishful thinking!  Resolutions don’t get accomplished without “resolve.”  But resolve is not enough.  A written plan is a way to outline how to accomplish a goal—something that can be read, re-read, and evaluated along the way.

4. Put the Plan on the Calendar

How can I read the Bible through if I don’t budget time?  How can I get in shape if I don’t have specific times and days when I workout regularly?  How can I spend time with my wife if I don’t have a date night?

5. Tell Others

Accountability is one of the most important features of any plan for life change.  Very few of us have the personal self-discipline to make significant change without having someone we trust asking us how we are doing.

So in the spirit of telling others, here are mine:

  1. Read the New Testament. Last year’s reading plan was pretty aggressive—to read the Old Testament once and New Testament twice.  I made it through the OT and NT once, but due to the heavy reading schedule I was not able to keep up with my goal to journal on a key verse in each section. This year’s plan is only one chapter a day, five days a week.  That gives two flex days.  I plan to restart journaling using SOAP (scripture, observation, application, prayer).
  2. Implement “Life’s Healing Choices.” I plan to take seriously the study and application of Life’s Healing Choices (Jan-Feb @ Grace Place), do the homework assignments (individually and in small group), and continue working on the material throughout the year with the help of a monthly accountability partner.
  3. Improve My Fitness Plan. Continue working out with partners at the gym at least three times per week, but began and maintain a new eating plan with one day off each week (instead of seven!).  I refuse to agree with Jay Leno when he says: “Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average… which means, you have met your New Year’s resolution.”
  4. Read More Widely. I do a lot of reading that is specific to sermon prep and church leadership, but I know my mind is more challenged and I am more balanced when I read widely.  The way I intend to do this is by using the Amazon KINDLE for reading this year and take advantage of the opportunity of downloading free chapters to expose myself to a wider variety of genres that I might select from.  I will also have to budget time for this, and at the same time put limits on TV and social media.
  5. Finish Doctoral Degree. I know, I know, I have been working on it for a long time!  I’m about halfway done with the writing (80-100 pages so far with hundreds of footnotes).  But some of the research is dependent on what has been happening in the church, so I have been waiting to document and write up conclusions.  I plan to write up a progress plan for the year with my assistant, Mark Johnson, who will make a project plan and hold me accountable.

With realistic goals, a written plan, and accountability, New Year’s resolutions do not have to be just wishful good intentions.  They do not have to end up like Mark Twain’s assessment: “New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”


Nov 28 2011

Christmas Series at Grace Place

clay


The Christmas series at Grace Place starting this weekend is called “MESSIAH: The Gospel According to Isaiah.” We will look at prophecies in Isaiah that accurately foretold the coming Messiah’s birth, ministry, message, death, resurrection, and final triumph. During the month of December we will be inspired by portraits of the Messiah as: Perfect King, Suffering Servant, Mighty Conqueror, and Light of the Nations. Bring your Bibles with you!


Nov 23 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

clay

Dear Grace Place Family and Friends,

I hope you have a festive and grateful holiday.

Two quick reminders:

1. Tom Ewing (recording artist, song writer, anointed worship leader, pastor, mentor) is our guest worship leader and speaker this Sunday to conclude our “Wired for Worship” series. If you are in town DON’T MISS IT! I couldn’t think of a better crescendo for this series. There is no Thursday night service this week, due to the holiday, so Sunday will likely be packed. Come early and please move to the middle and try not to leave empty seats.
2. If you are at the grocery store before Sunday, pick up some extra canned foods for those in need. We need piles of canned food to show up this weekend for helping feed needy families through Christmas in Berthoud. Extra will go to restock the shelves of House of Neighborly Services. Bring bags of canned goods with you to church if you can.

We have so much to be thankful for and even when we have stress and trouble going on in our lives praising the Lord lifts our spirits. Remember, Jesus offers you a great exchange if you will take it—“a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).

With much love,
Clay


Nov 2 2011

PULPIT EXCHANGE

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Grace Place Family and Friends,

I want you to know about a special weekend coming up. On Sunday, November 6, I will be trading pulpits with Jonathan Wiggins, Senior Pastor of Resurrection Fellowship. Jonathan and I have become friends over the past couple years and we both have a desire to see churches in Northern Colorado working together in a spirit of unity and cooperation. This pulpit exchange speaks loudly of our desire. This idea was initiated by Jonathan when he asked me to come do a message about our adoption story. I will be speaking at all four services at Resurrection Fellowship: Saturday, Nov. 5, 4:00 & 6:00 PM; and Sunday, Nov. 6, 8:30 & 10:30 AM.

Jonathan, due to a previous conflict, is unable to be at Grace Place on Thursday night (Nov. 3), but will be speaking on Sunday, (Nov. 6) at 8:45 & 10:45 AM. I hope many of you who normally attend on Thursday, will shift to Sunday for one week (especially the early service) so that you can hear Jonathan. He will be talking about some compelling lessons he learned from reaching out to the artist at the center of the art controversy in Loveland that became national news last year. Don’t miss it! For those who have not heard Selene and my story of the amazing miracle that God did in Ukraine enabling us to adopt Julia, or who want to hear the latest update on that ongoing story, I will present the same message at the Thursday night service (Nov. 3) that I will be bringing to Resurrection Fellowship on Sat./Sun. I would love to see you at Grace Place on Thursday night or at Rez on Saturday night, but if you only go to church once next weekend, make it Sunday at Grace Place to hear Jonathan. I love his heart and ministry style, and want you to hear him.


Aug 9 2011

The Dot and the Line

clay

The Dot represents this life. The Line represents eternity. Which are you living for? If you live only for the dot that’s it. If you live for the line you have both the dot and the line.

One of the ways you demonstrate where your heart is and what you are living for is how you relate to treasure. Concerning earthly treasure, Jesus said: You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. Recently I read a little book by Randy Alcorn, “The Treasure Principle,” which makes this point clearly. Jesus said:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)

Why did Jesus say not to store up treasures on earth? Because they are bad? NO. Because they won’t last! They will eventually be worthless or someone else’s—worthless because they wear out (moth or rust destroy); or someone else gets them, if not thieves, than whoever divvies up your stuff when you die.

“Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” (Proverbs 23:5)

It’s not a matter of if we will lose our earthly treasures, only when (whether it happens while we live or after we die). It always happens, no exceptions.

Imagine you’re alive at the end of the Civil War. You’re living in the South but you are a Northerner. You plan to move home as soon as the war is over. While in the South you’ve accumulated lots of Confederate currency. Now suppose you know for a fact that the North is going to win the war and end is imminent. What will you do with your Confederate money?

If you’re smart, there’s only one answer. You should immediately cash in your Confederate currency for U.S. currency—the only money that will have value once the war is over. Keep only enough Confederate currency to meet your short-term needs.

It is like that for Christ-followers. We have some “inside-trading tips.” We know that when Jesus returns someday, suddenly, unexpectedly, earth’s currency will be worthless. The same thing happens for you the moment you die. Either event could happen at any time without warning. Jesus assured us that there is a way to transfer our treasure from earth to heaven. You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead!

Think of your money as “Confederate money.” There is nothing wrong with Confederate money as long as you realize its limits. Recognizing that its value is temporary radically alters your investment strategy. If you are busy trying to collect as much money and stuff as you can, it is the same as stockpiling a stack of Confederate money while knowing full well that it will soon become worthless. That’s just plain stupid!

Jesus is not against storing up treasure. But he encourages us to be sure and store it up in the right place. Neither is he opposed to us thinking about our own best interests. He says “Store up for yourself.” It’s not selfish to think about what is for your best interest. Jesus says, I’m trying to help you out. This for your best interest that you send some of your treasure on ahead.

This mentality requires a willingness for delayed gratification. Financial planners tell us, “Don’t think 3 or 4 months or 3 or 4 years ahead… but think 30-40 years ahead.” Good investments require planning for the future. But Jesus is taking this advice further. He’s saying, “Don’t think about how your investments will be paying you in 30-40 years, but think about 30 or 40 trillion years from now!”

Anything we try and hang on to here we will lose. Anything we put in God’s will be ours for eternity. Martin Luther said: “I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all. But whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”

It’s a no-brainer when you stop to really think about it that we would transfer some Confederate money before it loses its value. You can’t take it with you. You never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer.

“Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.” (Psalm 49:16-17)

It is normal to be in awe of someone who is successful and has a lot of stuff. But don’t be “overawed” and forget that “they will take nothing with them when they die.” Jim Elliot, who was later martyred by the natives he was seeking to reach for Christ, wisely stated: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”


Jul 20 2011

Britain’s Ragtag Armada Accomplishes Remarkable Rescue

clay

Inspiring story with great application!

In “The Word and Power Church,” Doug Banister writes:

“The spring of 1940 found Hitler’s panzer divisions mopping up French troops and preparing for a siege of Great Britain. The Dutch had already surrendered, as had the Belgians. The British army foundered on the coast of France in the channel port of Dunkirk. Nearly a quarter million young British soldiers and over 100,000 allied troops faced capture or death.

“The Fuerhrer’s troops, only a few miles away in the hills of France, closed in on an easy kill. The Royal Navy had enough ships to save barely 17,000 men, and the House of Commons was told to brace itself for “hard and heavy tidings.”

“Then while a despairing world watched with fading hope, a bizarre fleet of ships appeared on the horizon of the English Channel. Trawlers, tugs, fishing sloops, lifeboats, sailboats, pleasure craft, an island ferry named Gracie Fields, and even the America’s Cup challenger Endeavor, all manned by civilian sailors, sped to the rescue. The ragtag armada eventually rescued 338,682 men and returned them home to the shores of England, as pilots of the Royal Air Force jockeyed with the German Luftwaffe in the skies above the channel. It was one of the most remarkable naval operations in history.

“The church, likewise, is God’s ragtag armada. The church is a mix of flawed individuals on a rescue operation commissioned by God.”


Jun 28 2011

Holy Land Pilgrimage

clay
What makes the miracles of Jesus even more miraculous? Standing where they happened! Worshiping while sailing on the Sea of Galilee, seeing the Bible come alive before your eyes, sensing God’s presence like never before… You’ll never be the same. There are still a few spots open on our October trip to Israel. Let me know if you want details (but act fast!).