Nov 28 2011

Christmas Series at Grace Place

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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

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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

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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!).


Apr 21 2011

HOLY LAND TOUR, October 7-16, 2011

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Dr Richard Fredericks (my dear friend and mentor from Damascus Road Community church) and myself are leading a Holy Land Tour this fall.  Prices will be finalized in the next few days.  This itinerary has been worked on extensively, based on learning from multiple trips we have both been on.  This is the best I have ever seen.  This will be the spiritual experience of a life time.  There is limited space.  The Grace Place spots are already half-filled.  Let me know soon if you are interested:

DAY 1 – Friday, October 7th:

WASHINGTON OR DENVER -LONDON

Tour members are welcomed for our departing flight from Washington (Dulles) or Denver to London via wide-body aircraft arriving the next day.

DAY 2 – Saturday, October 8th,
LONDON / TEL AVIV
This morning we arrive in London at 9:15 AM and wait for our friends from Denver to arrive at 12:30PM. We will go to our motor coach for a half day tour of London. We will then stop for a fish and chips dinner before going back to the airport for our 10:30PM flight to Tel Aviv.

Day 3 – Sunday – October 09, 2011
TEL AVIV / CAESAREA MARITIME/ MEGIDDO/ TIBERIAS
This morning we will have an early arrival in Israel. We will transfer for our hotel a brief rest and breakfast with a mid morning departure. We are met by our co-guide, Gilbert, who will be with us for our entire time in the Holy Land. Our first stop is Jaffa (Joppa in Acts 10), the city of Jonah, location of the house of Simon the Tanner where Peter had his roof-top vision of God’s inclusion of the Gentiles into His salvation in Christ. Drive to Herod’s architectural wonder Caesarea Maritime (on the Mediterranean) with its Roman aqueducts and amphitheatre. Then we go on to Mount Carmel (the site of Elijah’s face-off with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18) and overlooking Haifa (port city) and the gorgeous Bahai Gardens.  Next to Megiddo (a royal city of Solomon), then Nazareth (Luke 4) where Jesus grew up (Church of the Annunciation).  We end the day with a baptism service in the Jordon River and hotel in Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee.

Day 4: Monday, October 10th:
TIBERIUS/UPPER GALILEE
A long day!  Drive north to Caesarea Philippi for early arrival (around 8:00 am) and a quiet time reading Matthew 16: Jesus’ great question: ‘Who do you say that I am?’ asked near the Roman Temple dedicated to Pan cut from the Rock containing the Gate of Hell cavern.  Stop at Dan (the site of the high altar to the Golden Calf), then back to Korazin (Seat of Moses). After Korazin, go to Capernaum (Matthew 4:13-17: Jesus’ home base during His Galilean ministry) and share a Bible study in the “Jesus-synagogue”, see the millstones (Matthew 18:5-6) and see Peter the fisherman’s house on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 1:21-34; 2:1-12).  Lunch, then Tabgha (feeding of 5000 recorded in all four Gospels) and the Mount of Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7) for a time of worship and prayer.  From here we go to the Sea of Galilee boat trip (more time for reflection) ending back at Tiberius at dusk, for time in town.

Day 5 – Tuesday, October 11th:
TIBERIUS/ BET SHEAN/ DEAD SEA
Leave Tiberius late morning and head south around Sea of Galilee to Bet Shean, the largest Roman city ruins in Israel, site of OT final battle for King Saul.  Continue south to Jericho (Mark 10:46-52; Luke 19:1-10), the oldest city on earth and site of many Biblical stories, then on to our resort on the Dead Sea.

Day 6: Wednesday, October 12th:
DEAD SEA/ MASADA/ ENGEDI/ UP TO JERUSALEM
Morning swim in Dead Sea, then early to Masada to avoid heat (those that want to hike down from top can).  On to David’s wilderness home at En Gedi (1 Samuel 23:29) for several hours: swim in David’s waterfall pond, then study time in Psalms.  Late lunch near Qum Ran, then drive up to Jerusalem, as we read together the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134), arrive at Jerusalem Hotel at dusk, and into city for shopping and sunset at Western (wailing) Wall.

Day 7: Thursday, October 13th:
OLD CITY/ NEW CITY/ RABBI TUNNEL / ORIENTATION TO JERUSALEM
Begin first day in Jerusalem entering through Jaffa Gate to Christ’s Church Mission for worship and history of Christian missions in Jerusalem. Then go to the Citadel for history of Jerusalem.  Dome of the Rock (previous site of Herod’s Temple) and Wailing Wall by day including the Rabbi Tunnel tour, the Archeological park and South Steps of temple.  Share lunch in the Old City.  Upper Room for communion (Luke 22:7-37), David’s Tomb, and drive to Model City and Shrine of the Book (Dead Sea Scrolls).  Back to our Hotel in Jerusalem.

Day 8: Friday, October 14th:
BETHLEHEM/ KIDRON VALLEY
Early to Bethlehem, begin at Shepherd’s Field for worship, then onto Church of the Nativity (Luke 2) and to Grottos of St Catherine’s Church.  Lunch then shopping at Joseph’s Gift Shop in Bethlehem.  Back into Jerusalem to Pool of Bethesda, St Anne’s Crusader Church, then to St Peter at Gallicantu (Peter’s denial) for Bible study and coffee break.  Return to Hotel in Jerusalem. Evening free for visiting the city.  But tomorrow is crucial, so get some sleep!

Day 9: Saturday, October 15th:
Another long day! Begin early 7:30 am: walk down Via Dolorosa (way of suffering) to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Golgotha Chapel, Tomb, Syrian Chapel, St Helena Chapel) for first worship.  Then to Lutheran Church Tower (view), and the Alexander Russian Orthodox Church (Passion paintings) for quiet time.  Lunch.  Then on to vista of the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24-25), walk down to Dominus Flavit (Our Lord Weeps, Luke 19:37-44) and on to the Garden of Gethsemane for worship (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 18) and the All Nations’ Church.   Arrive at Garden Tomb for tour/reflection time, till 6:00 pm.  We then go to a special final dinner/evening in Jerusalem and time to share best memories.

Day 10: Sunday, October 16th:
JERUSALEM/TEL AVIV/ LONDON / WASHINGTON OR DENVER
This morning we will transfer to the airport for our morning flight to London continuing on to Washington or Denver.  Forever there will be new depth and insight to our Bible study, especially when we read the life of Jesus in the Gospels.


Apr 10 2011

A Radical Change

clay

 

At Grace Place church our mission statement indicates our desire to be: Changed People Changing the World. The change God wants to bring in your life is not a slight adjustment, but a radical one!  God intends for you to experience a three-fold transformation in your life:

1. HEART Change

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

2. CHARACTER Change

Do not conform any longer 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)

3. PURPOSE Change

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)

The heart change happens when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior.  The character change is ongoing for the rest of our life as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit who is making us more like Jesus.  The purpose change is about us choosing to live our lives for God’s purpose instead of our own—the only way true and lasting fulfillment is found.

If you want to be challenged to rethink the prevailing view of “American Christianity” versus the biblical call of true discipleship, I recommend a book by David Platt that I’ve been reading called “Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.” But I warn you, don’t pick it up if you want be a casual and comfortable Christian. This young 32-year old Christ-follower will rock your world.

Platt boldly challenges believers in Christ to consider how different the call of Christ is from the “American Dream.”   For example Christ claims that:

  • Real success is found in radical sacrifice.
  • Ultimate satisfaction is found not in making much of ourselves but in making much of God.
  • The purpose of our lives transcends the country and culture in which we live.
  • Meaning is found in community, not individualism.
  • Joy is found in generosity, not materialism.
  • Truth is found in Christ, not universalism.
  • Ultimately, Jesus is a reward worth risking everything to know, experience, and enjoy.

If you read the Red Letters (the words of Jesus) in the Gospels and try to remove western 21st century American eyeglasses, they are sobering, disturbing, even shocking.  The call and claims of Christ are indeed radical.


Mar 4 2011

What Really Matters to God

clay

Just finished Tim Keller’s excellent book, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Excerpts from the closing pages:

“Proverbs 19:17 and 14:31 are texts that sum up a great deal of Scriptural material.  The first text says that if you are kind to the poor, God takes it as if you are being kind to him.  The second gives us the flip side; namely, that if you show contempt for the poor it means you are showing contempt for him . . . .

“If you insult the poor, you insult God.  The principle is that God personally identifies very closely with the widow, the orphan, and the immigrant, the most powerless and vulnerable members of society.  When the Old Testament says God identifies with the poor, that is a strong statement.  But it still is basically a figure of speech.  Not until you come to the New Testament can you fully grasp the degree to which God has done this.

“In Proverbs we see God identifying with the poor symbolically.  But in the incarnation and death of Jesus we see God identifying with the poor and marginally literally.  Jesus was born in a feed trough . . . . He lived among the poor and marginalized, who were drawn to him even as the respectable were repulsed by him . . . . He died naked and penniless . . . .

“In Jesus Christ God identified not only with the poor, but also with those who are denied justice. . . . Many people say, ‘I can’t believe in God when I see all the injustice in the world.’  But here is Jesus [at the cross], the Son of God, who knows what it’s like to be the victim of injustice, to stand up to power, to face a corrupt system and be killed for it.  He knows what it is like to be lynched.  I’m not sure how you believe in a God remote from injustice and oppression, but Christianity doesn’t ask you to believe in that.  That is why the Christian writer John Stott is able to say, ‘I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross.  In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who is immune to it?’

“. . . . This was the ultimate instance of God’s identification with the poor.  He not only became one of the actually poor and marginalized, he stood in the place of all those of us in spiritual poverty and bankruptcy (Matthew 5:3) and paid our debt.

“Now that is a thing of beauty.  To take that into the center of your life and heart will make you one of the just . . . .

“Proverbs 14:31 says, ‘He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker.’   The God of the Bible says, as it were, ‘I am the poor on your step.  Your attitude toward them reveals what your true attitude is toward me.’  A life poured out in doing justice for the poor is the inevitable sign of any real, true gospel faith.”


Feb 2 2011

Praying Girl

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If you check out my blog during  February/early March, click on the tab labeled “Adoption Journey.”  Selene and I will be in Ukraine on a rescue mission and we will be chronicling our experience as we are able.  We learned about a girl who is about to “age out.”  She turns 16 on May 6.  Every day she prays for a family, even though it feels more and more hopeless as she gets closer to the day (May 6) when she will no longer be eligible for adoption.  We are going to try to be an answer to her prayer!  We can’t change the whole world, but we can change the whole world for one person.