The JOY of Face Masks

As you seek to put into practice putting Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last (the path to JOY!) with regard to face masks, here is some further reading that captures the heart of our leadership on this topic.

This follows our July 5, 2020, message on “What Would Love Do” specifically relating to Face Masks!

4 Reasons to Wear a Face Mask, Even if You Hate It from The Gospel Coalition

While Some Try to Politicize Wearing Face Masks, for Me it’s a Spiritual Practice from Baptist News Global

Church, Don’t Let Coronavirus Divide You from The Gospel Coalition

June 14 Business Meeting Recap!

Our first ever “virtual” Grace Point Business Meeting was held via Zoom with over 90 devices connected! Here are the highlights:

Staff Recognition: Laura Schlenker
Dave Wolf recognized Laura for her milestone 30 years on staff! Laura is appreciated for her commitment to excellence, care for people, love for the Lord, and last but not least – sense of humor. We are grateful to have Laura as part of our staff team.

Annual Report, Ministry Year 2019-20
Ministry Staff summarized in writing the highlights of the current ministry year in this document. A full color print version with testimonies and photos will be produced as well.

Head Teller Vote
Scott Leuz explained that Dave Hefty is stepping down after serving the maximum term allowed as Head Teller. (Many thanks for your faithful service Dave!) The Head Teller is responsible to recruit and oversee the counters of the weekly offering. Andy Nichols has agreed to serve for up to one year while a candidate is determined who will then fill a full 3-year term.

Director of Student Ministry Vote
Dave Wolf summarized the work the Director of Student Ministry Search Team has performed over the previous 6 months:

  • Reaffirmation of top three skills important in a candidate: relate well to students, parents and volunteer leaders
  • Thorough evaluation of previous search process identified seven improvements for the current process
  • Prayed and reached out to personal connections, asking the Lord for a candidate with a trusted personal reference
  • Met Jeremy Davis near end of April – have seen God’s fingerprints all over our conversations
  • Jeremy participated in more than ten Zoom calls, followed by a full candidating weekend of meetings and skill demonstrations, and culminating with a public Q&A

Believing that Jeremy is an excellent candidate for the position, the elders presented Jeremy Davis for approval by vote to be our new Director of Student Ministry.

Financial Update and Budget Vote
Bill Wright provided a summary of recent months’ giving and expenses, and where we stand year-to-date. We are grateful for strong giving in May, which puts our income-to-expense in a surplus of $3,863 year-to-date. We are projecting to be close to breaking even with income-to-expense this fiscal year (ending June 30) but giving is projected to be below the budgeted need by $52,000. Bill also gave an update on the amount of the loan for the Payroll Protection Plan, and the amount that has been used to date.

Bill presented the proposed budget for the 2020-21 ministry year, which reflects a $16,500 or 1.0% decrease over the current ministry year. This budget does include a full-time salary for the Director of Student Ministry to begin immediately. Also, included is a part-time salary to fill the Ministry Administrative Assistant position, which will not be filled right away but will be considered over the coming months based on giving trends.

Resumption Plans
Dave Wolf gave a brief update on plans to reopen Grace Point for Sunday morning in-person worship. The Resumption Team, comprised of two elders and three staff, are working hard to balance safety with the desire to be back together again. The church-wide survey sent out a few weeks ago revealed 200 responses split down the middle between those who are ready to resume in-person worship regardless of mitigation, and others who prefer heavy mitigation.

For the next several Sundays, we will be conducting “test runs” with selected serving teams so that we may experiment with mitigation practices and gain real-life experience that will be helpful in developing our parameters for reopening. We want to make the return to in-person worship as positive as possible. Livestream worship will continue as part of our online ministry.

Closing
At the end of the meeting, Scott Leuz gave clear instructions for how to vote using the ballot that was e-mailed to members by returning the ballot via e-mail by 2:00 p.m. Also, members who do not have e-mail or wish to remain anonymous may use the two-envelope system to mail in their ballot or drop off their ballot in the designated box at church by Friday, June 19. The results of the vote will be announced during the service on June 21. The meeting was then closed in prayer.

Together

“…Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression…”
(Isaiah 1:17)

My heart aches for the brokenness of our world, so evident in recent days.

Mr. George Floyd’s death at the knee of an officer sworn to serve and protect is at the same time personally tragic, and also embodies a larger standoff that has existed for too many years in our country. A standoff between those in power who sometimes misuse it, and those of diminutive voice calling for justice, but being ignored.

This is a brokenness at a foundational level, that goes to the core of what it means to be human.

I have not been quick to comment on racially charged events because I honestly feel inadequate and poorly positioned to do so. I cannot empathize with the frustration experienced by my African American friends because I have not experienced what it’s like to be marginalized in the way they have. I don’t know what it’s like to be instantly dismissed, or suspected, or mistreated simply because of the color of my skin.

But I want to say to my African American friends and call us as a community of faith to say: though we may not empathize with your pain, we can care about you, stand with you, listen to you.

We can listen to what is being said through the brokenness of both peaceful and violent protests. The violence causes our hearts to ache too, because in it we see pain masked by anger, more innocent people being hurt, and the condemnation of a governmental system that has failed to provide justice equitably.

Let us join together in an apology for the times when you have been ignored while speaking in a normal tone of voice. We are sorry that you sometimes have to shout to be heard.

So, may we listen as you speak in a normal tone of voice, in the context of personal friendship. Let us weep together as you share your pain. Let us speak out on your behalf where our voices can make a difference.

It would be easy for us to write off the polarization in our country as a lost cause, but then I see Jesus confronting it head on. He chose Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot to be among His disciples. They epitomized the political polarization of their day: one pledged to overthrow the oppressive force of Rome, the other sold out to collect more revenue so that force could spread.

Jesus called these two men from polar opposite worldviews into a cadre that lived with Him in tight-knit community for three years. I wonder how many times Matthew and Simon snarled at each other, seethed at each other, avoided each other. But Jesus invited them to three years of walking together and eating together and serving together and learning together from the Master what it means to love one another.

And so, that is my prayer for our community, beginning with our church family. I want us to walk together and eat together and serve together with those who are different from us, learning from the Master what it means to love one another. THAT is what the church should look like, my friends.

Let’s lift our voices together then, first in praise to our God Who creates each and every human being in His image, with equal dignity, equal value. And then let us kneel in praise to Jesus on ground that is blessedly level at the foot of His cross – thanking Him for making His redemption from sin equally accessible to every one of us.

And after praise to our perfect God, let us join our voices in a plea for justice to Him and to our imperfect governmental leaders, on behalf of every imperfect yet valued human being. I confess I’m not entirely sure how to do that. But let us press forward in finding out, together.

Dave

Missionary Updates in Light of COVID-19

At Grace Point, we are passionate about fulfilling the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). We believe that we are called to share the Gospel through words and actions in our community, in our region, in our country and beyond our borders. We are committed to giving our Grace Point family opportunities to participate in what God is doing by partnering with ministries and organizations in outreach endeavors as well as sending teams on short term mission trips.

Another way our Grace Point family remains “on mission” is by supporting our 21 missionary families around the globe through prayer, encouragement and finances. We are so grateful for the obedience and faithfulness in which our missionaries serve within the United States and beyond our country’s borders. They provide us with such inspiration and cause us to reflect on how we’re fulfilling the Great Commission in our spheres of influence. The work they do, in the name of Jesus Christ, is filled with extreme challenges when life is “normal.”

Nate & Jendi Korpi serving as church planters in Panama City, Panama have also been affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Can you even imagine how much MORE challenging it must be to be on the mission field within the United States and outside of our country in these unprecedented times? Consider the adjustments we have had to make in our daily routines. Consider the fears we’ve had as people are becoming infected and dying around us. Consider the despair and deep sadness we’ve faced as we’ve experienced loss of people, loss of income, loss of milestone moments and loss of purpose. I’ve always viewed missionaries as extraordinary people who challenge me to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” (Ephesians 4:1) During these difficult times, especially, they serve as my heroes. I bet they do you as well.

We have heard from several of our missionaries and they’ve shared how this pandemic is affecting them and their ministry. As you would expect, they briefly shared some of their personal challenges, but they were more focused on how they were seeing God amid it all. Again, they are my heroes.

I want to share a small sampling of how they have seen the fingerprints of God:

  • The gratefulness for the gift of technology was voiced from all our missionaries! Due to the relational aspect of ministry, WhatsApp, email, Zoom, texting, etc. has kept them connected not only to their families and friends, but also to those they’ve been cultivating relationships with as they serve. Technology provides the means to connect, but it is also proving to encourage more authentic and real dialogue as sometimes it’s easier to share vulnerabilities through a device as opposed to an in-person small or large group gathering.
  • Out of Bolivia, the day that the Bolivian Minister of Health declared all classes NATIONALLY would be suspended, they were in session which allowed the teachers to send their students home with all their books and materials needed for online schooling. This has made online schooling more successful.
  • Out of Central Asia it was mentioned that the fear of COVID-19 and the “cultural fear of death” has opened many doors to share about the saving grace of Jesus. They have reported that there is an openness to hearing about God and there is more opportunity to correct false thinking and share the Truth.
  • Out of the Middle East, it was shared that there is a sense of a “prayer movement” happening. There is some exciting activity stemming from a group of new believers (less than 6 months) connecting weekly and praying together!
  • From the United States, it is exciting to see that people are continuing to inquire and fill out applications to go overseas and join in transformational education around the world especially with so much up in the air right now!

I suspect you are encouraged and inspired, as am I, seeing even more evidence that a worldwide pandemic is no match for our great God! It is a blessing to hear from our missionaries and partnering with them through prayer by supporting the work that God is doing through them and beyond them.

Speaking of prayer! If you would like to sign up for our Daily Focus prayer list, where prayer requests of our missionaries are shared, please do so by emailing go@gracepointpa.org with your name and we will add you to the list.

Enjoy this video, sent by Katie Beth Wilke, our missionary in Santa Cruz, Bolivia as she shares how her day to day life has been affected by COVID-19. However, as you’ll see, her joy in serving the Lord hasn’t been affected one bit!!

April 2020 Update from Katie Beth Wilcke, serving in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Elder Prayer (4/19/20)

Before we pray, let us read a few words from the apostle Paul written to the church at Corinth –

“For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” 2 Corinthians 1:8b-10

Let us take the opportunity now in coming before the Lord in prayer.

Most gracious and loving heavenly Father, we want to come, and we want to worship You in spirit and in truth. We want to lift-up our hearts, and souls, and our voices in the praise of our God, for You alone are worthy to receive the honor and the glory and all that is within us.

But Lord we know at this particular time, Lord there are times when we can look back and see that You have delivered us and that You will deliver us again, but there are those within our family that are hurting. There are those that feel they are despairing, that they are feeling they are destitute and even as the apostle Paul sensed that all of his strength had gone from within him and that he was almost despairing of life itself, I’m sure that there are those within our church family that are sensing almost that same feeling that Paul did. I pray Lord that You will come to them. For those that are battling the corona virus itself, would You grant a healing touch, for those Lord that are wondering where the next paycheck will come, will You provide for their every need, Lord we think of those parents whose children seem to be under their feet all of the time because they are locked-up because of this situation, we pray Lord that You would cause the sun to shine that would allow them to be placed out in the backyard that they could run about and to have fun. Lord we know there are many other situations, those that are dealing with loneliness, those that are dealing with mental health challenges, Lord those that are dealing with financial burdens, we pray Lord that You would cause them  to realize that will not get through it on their own strength but on the strength of the Lord.

We trust in you God, for You are the one that specializes in turning crucifixions into resurrections. This world would cause us to despair but Lord remind us we can sing with a certainty, even as we considered last weekend … up from the grave Christ arose with a mighty triumph o’er His foes, Christ arose a victor from the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose, He arose, hallelujah, Christ arose.

Oh, gracious Lord, give us a sight of the risen, ascended and reigning Christ.

Lord we know we may not have the faith to move mountains, but we can pray as one did of old, ‘Lord I believe help my unbelief’. Lord we can make a difference, I pray Lord that You would help us to see the needs of others, not constantly looking to ourselves but looking out, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Lord we can make a difference, we pray that You would help us to do what we can that Your name might be glorified.

Lord we worship You this morning, it is our choice to rejoice in the God of our Savior. Lord we pray that You would help us to trust in Jesus, who is our hope in this life and in the life to come. We pray Lord that You would deliver us in the coming days, we look to You Lord, not despairing, not being in a place of destitution but Lord being in the arms of our God, who watch over us, protect us and meet our needs.

We thank You Lord that we can ask all of these things, for You have given us the name of Jesus, in whom You have given authority in heaven and in earth and we look to the one who is able even to silence and to quell the sea and the storm. We believe Lord that even through this storm that we are going through that He will give us peace for it is in His name we ask and pray all of these things, for His honor and for His glory amen.   

(David Holmes)                         

Exploring the Resurrection of Jesus

Colossians Series-title2“Come, see the place where He lay,” the angel said (Matthew 28:6). He’s not there any longer! You too can examine the evidence for the historicity of the Resurrection.

The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel

Also a movie, included with Netflix and available to rent on Amazon Prime.

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona

Scholarly:

The Resurrection of the Son of God, by N.T. Wright

The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, by Michael Licona

Devotional:

He Chose the Nails, by Max Lucado

What Jesus did for you:

Elder Prayer (3/29/20)

Father, we acknowledge that we owe our every breath to You, and by Your Spirit You sustain and encourage us (Job 12:10). We’re humbled to admit that we’re helpless without Jesus who holds all things in this world together (Colossians 1:17). But that’s where we are—helpless and vulnerable—and we’re especially aware of it in these days.

Our faith is in You, who delivered us out of sin’s dark night and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son You love, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14). We have so much in common in Christ that even this COVID-19 social distancing pales in comparison with what we share with all of our brothers and sisters in the LORD (Hebrews 3:1; Galatians 4:4-7).

But we do confess that we have not been as loving toward Your people as we could be. And maybe not as attuned to the opportunities to love. Please forgive us for thinking too much about ourselves, watching too much on our screens, and missing out on the relationships that count—with others and with You, our gracious Father (Matthew 22:37-40).  

Help us, in courage and with wisdom, to extend appropriate help and encouragement to those who are physically weak, emotionally strung out, or spiritually bruised. We see and hear lots of fear around us, and if we’re being honest, within us, as well. These are trying times. 

We know that a crisis is a turning point, the fulcrum at which the trend of future events is determined, so we humbly cry out to You, our Almighty Father. We cast the weight of these days from our shoulders to Yours (1 Peter 5:6-7). Turn the hearts of people everywhere, so that the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the biggest pivot point in history, would go forth to the whole world, bearing fruit and increasing (Colossians 1:6).

We think of the nation of Israel at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:1-14), and we implore You to do a mighty work…to heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14)…and people throughout this world, to help those who have been infected to receive the help that they need, and to slow to a standstill the spread of the virus…while at the same time increasing the spread of the Gospel. 

Please help us by giving us wise thoughts inspired by Your Spirit within us, wise words that help others and heal relationships, and wise counsel that is consistent with Your word (James 1:5-8). Thank You for our pastors, staff, and leaders at Grace Point who serve with devotion to keep our eyes on You.

We pray for all missionaries serving You around the world. We ask that Your Spirit would be moving to encourage, protect, and defend Sam and Amy, as well as Abbey, who are faithfully sharing the light in Middle Eastern societies—where Your truth is often suppressed.  Please release doors for these and all of our missionaries as they must find new avenues to be Your ambassadors to people who are, like us, facing their own mortality and so are feeling unsure of the future.  

We pray Your mercy on Christians in places like North Korea who are under constant attack and many are imprisoned for nothing other than their faith in You. Help them to persevere in their devotion to You and in their trust that Your grace is sufficient for them, for Your power is made perfect in weakness (2 Chronicles 12:9). 

Spirit of God, may You miraculously and with power blow the doors open so that the ones who are positioned to step through them—those we have sent to the ends of the world, and all of us right here in this community—would be enabled and emboldened to step into the new opportunities spawned by this worldwide pandemic to share the reason for the hope within us, and always to do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Help us to turn questions about our swirling circumstances into questions that point to ultimate reality.

At a time when everything seems to be radically shifting, we want to remember together as we worship Jesus that He is always and will always be a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19), a hope that isn’t dependent on the shifting sands of material prosperity, or religiosity, or “positivity,” or social connectivity, but on the Rock of our hope in Your eternity.

Pour out Your Spirit so that—in our individual lives and as Your church—we will “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). We are confident that Jesus is with us—His Spirit is here right alongside us—and He has forever overcome the world (John 16:33).

And so, we thank You and praise You in the name of our Savior Jesus—AMEN!

(Keith Brown)

Women’s Outreach & Fellowship – February 2020

Our Women’s Outreach & Fellowship met on Wednesday, February 19. They enjoyed fellowship and lunch together while assembling Easter handouts for patients at Esperanza. They also created key chains to be used by a local ministry to share the Gospel.

The women also enjoyed signing and sending greeting cards to a few people who are recovering from illness or surgery. Their time of prayer was concentrated on Grace Point missionaries.

Women’s Outreach & Fellowship meets on the third Wednesday from September through May. If you are interested in more information about Women’s Outreach & Fellowship, Lori Wilson would be happy to hear from you! women.fellowship@gracepointpa.org

They always welcome more women to join in the meaningful fun and fellowship!

Elder Prayer (2/16/20)

Heavenly Father, You are a God who calls.

You called forth order out of chaos, and worlds were created and life began.

You called Abraham, to leave behind all that he knew, his comfort and safety, to go and follow You not knowing where he was going. And he obeyed.

You later called him to give up what he had hoped and waited for his entire life. And he obeyed.

You called Moses, from within the bush, to an assignment that he did not want or feel equipped to do, to a true mission impossible. And he obeyed.

You called Your prophets, to share Your truth with people who didn’t want to hear it, at the cost of their reputations, relationships and very lives. And they obeyed.

You called Jonah to share Your grace and truth with a people that he despised, and though he initially ran, he obeyed.

You called a young peasant girl named Mary out of utter obscurity to carry and care for the infant Savior of the world, and though she paid a high cost for doing so, she obeyed.

You called 12 to leave behind all they knew to follow You. It cost them their occupations. It cost them their dreams of what a new Kingdom might be. It cost them their peace and safety and eventually their lives. And they obeyed.

You called a man named Saul, to lay down his arms, and follow You and suffer for You immensely, so that the message of Your grace and truth would spread. It cost him everything.

You’ve called so many ordinary people in the past who heard, responded and obeyed, even though they very often did not see promises fulfilled in their lifetimes, but welcomed what You promised from a distance.

You are calling some of us here this morning Lord.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You to quietly and patiently trust You in the face of unsettling uncertainty, or relentless and intense pain and suffering. We’re going to need to leave behind our expectations of how we thought our lives would be, our frustrations, as well as our sense of hopelessness.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You to reconcile and restore what’s been broken and lost. We’re going to need to leave behind our sense of right and fairness, and the hurt we feel that is all too real.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You to reach out and get into the mess of the poor and hurting all around us. We’re going to need to leave behind our comfort, our time, our pride.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You to a spiritual assignment that we don’t feel ready for, to step out in faith and courage in You. We’re going to need to leave behind our sense of self-protection, maybe our hatreds, our sense of inadequacy and fear of what the future holds.

Some of us here this morning are being called by You, to lay down our arms, and follow You for the first time, knowing that we’re going to need to leave behind our doubts and self-righteousness.

Your call is not something we add to our lives. It’s never exactly what we expect it to be. It always requires that we leave something behind. Our expectations, our fears, our doubts, our comfort, our safety, our pride, our very wills. To lose what we think life is all about, in order to gain real, true life, the life we’ve really always wanted, in You.

We’re not being called to a creed, a cause, a condition, a solution, a promise, a place, a state of mind or even a victory. We’re being called to You.

You often don’t tell us what lies next Father. We only know that You are so incredibly glorious, that to run from Your call is pointless. You ask us to simply do what lies before us, to do the next thing. 

To obey is our objective, because You obeyed Jesus. To suffer, for You, is to be expected, because You suffered for us so that we would not have to eternally. Your glory is our reward.

Help each of us this morning Father to respond to Your call on our lives, no matter the difficulty, no matter what we may need to leave behind, knowing that the only real and lasting happiness we will ever experience on this earth comes through the doorway of quiet, humble submission and trustful obedience to and acceptance of Your will.

In acceptance of Your will there is Your peace.

In Your great name we pray,

(David Kneller)