May 21 2013

Exciting News!

clay

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:

clay

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

clay

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

clay

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

clay

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

clay

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)


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

clay


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.”