Harvey Cedars Recap by Jeremy Davis

GP Students had the opportunity to travel to Long Island, New Jersey, to spend two weeks at Harvey Cedars Bible Conference. These two weeks of ministry had been bathed in prayer for many months in advance. The preparation team endured many difficult challenges as COVID-19 regulations changed frequently. Thankfully, the Lord is greater than any difficulties we faced. 

We left for High School camp in hopes that God would do a wonderful work in our students; He did not disappoint. At the end of the week, we met at Barnegat Lighthouse to recap all the great things God accomplished. The students shared how encouraged they were in building friendships with one another, strengthening their relationships with God, and realizing how much their youth leaders love them.

Two days after returning from High School camp we loaded the vehicles up once again, this time leaving for Middle School camp. We came expectant that God would accomplish great things in the hearts of His young people. God was faithful, reminding us to have authentic faith in all we do. The students shared what a wonderful week they had with God and one another. 

Harvey Cedars is a special place, and it was a joy to see our students experience that, some for the first time! Thanks for praying for us. The Lord was kind and gracious in giving us two wonderful weeks together. We’re all looking forward to Harvey Cedars next summer!

-Jeremy Davis

Elder Prayer (7/25/21)

Jesus, we praise You for being the One who has set us free, for breaking all the chains that would otherwise hold us in bondage to sin and to the fear of death. We pray that each one in our church body would come to know You as their personal Savior, whether it be for the first time or in a new way as we spend time worshiping You, Lord. 

We pray for victory over any idols that have taken over control in our lives, and we pray for us to be free to live as a testimony of Your goodness and faithfulness in our lives. 

We pray for each family, for each marriage in our church. We pray that You would give us the strength to be sacrificial in the ways that we shower the love of Christ on one another in those families. 

We pray, Lord, for wisdom about the choices that we are making each day that determine the direction that our families and our households are going. Lord, we pray that You would also help us to be a testimony of Your provision and that we will be able to see ways to bless others in our spheres of influence. 

We pray for our church, that You would give great insight and direction to the elder team as we seek to shepherd the flock. We pray that You give us discernment as we seek to ensure that we are headed in the same direction with Converge, because our goal is that Jesus would be pre-eminent and that we would be in agreement about what the Holy Scriptures teach in advancing Your kingdom. 

Please guard and guide the staff as they work together to encourage us in our walk with You. Lord, we pray for our nation, that You would break the power of hate and despair and bring us back to unity. We pray that You would revive us as a nation and that Your Spirit would draw us to Yourself for the sake of Your name. 

Lord, we pray for the people of Cuba as they go through great unrest. We pray that You would free them from tyranny and allow all the believers in Cuba to worship You. Lord, there are other nations in this world that are tyrannical as well, and so we pray that all the believers that are seeking to worship You, whether it be underground or in secret or openly, Lord, that You would give them all courage, that You would embolden them. 

And we ask, Father, for all of our missionaries around the world, that You would help them to, in wisdom, discern the best way to share the truth of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ with brothers and sisters and also with those who do not yet know You. 

And we pray, Lord, that You would help us to be missionaries in our community; that You would help us to be faithful to share the love of Christ with others. Despite all that the enemy may say, Your truth is still true and Your kingdom is forever. We take joy in rejoicing in You, Father, and we praise Your holy name.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

(Keith Brown, Elder)

Adult Bible Study – Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

Young Tim was reading a letter from Paul, an older friend. One paragraph may have made him pause. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Years later, these words remain essential for shaping Christian thought, character and action. So each Sunday morning a group of adults meets at Grace Point for the purpose of digging into the written Word and discovering in it direction for living God’s way.

Adult Bible Study Class (ABS) has resumed and has just begun an examination of the Old Testament book of 1st Samuel which records the chaotic time of Israel’s first kings, Saul and David. Accounts of treachery, political chicanery and rebellion against God clearly parallel our own times. The eternal God revealed His works and nature in these events. That history, in turn, enables us to better understand His later self-revelation in Christ and the unchangeable principles for living in harmony with Him today.

ABS teachers are long time diggers into the written Word. They have a passion for sharing the “wondrous things” they have discovered in the Bible. They welcome questions and encourage discussion. The class has started again, meets every Sunday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Conference Room and is open to all adults. Bring a Bible and join in friendly, profitable study. We encourage you to go to the 9:00 a.m. worship service, and then come over to the Conference Room for ABS. We hope to see you!

-McGregor Scott

Elder Prayer (7/18/21)

As we go to prayer, I wonder how many of us are having these thoughts or questions as we think about our relationship with God:

          >I am overwhelmed with life right now. Is God there?

          >I’ve made too many mistakes to even be accepted by God.

          >I continue to make mistakes.

          >How can God love a person like me?

          >How can a God who is so big ever care about me?

Here is a familiar passage from Romans 8 that continues to encourage me, as it should encourage you!

Romans 8:28-39:  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let’s look to the Lord in prayer:

God, we are so thankful for Your Word that we have read that encourages us and reminds us how much You love every one of us and care about us. So much that You gave Your only Son to die in our place for all of our sins, past, present, and future!

We thank You that You are with us today and that we have the opportunity and privilege to worship You in various ways, through singing, hearing Your Word, giving, and in the building of relationships with others who are here. We thank You that your Spirit unites us and that we can join together in worshiping You.

I pray for those who are hurting physically, financially, emotionally, or in other ways, that they may find peace and comfort in Your presence and through the encouragement of Your Word and others who are here today. For those who are sick, we pray for healing as we know that You are the Great Physician!

I thank You for our Staff and our Worship Team…thanks for their sacrifice of service as they use their gifts in serving You and leading us at this church!  We thank You for the many volunteers that assist in various ministries as well. We pray for all of them as they serve that You would provide strength, stamina, wisdom, and protection from the enemy!

We also pray for those many missionary families that we support around the world. We thank You for their sacrificial service and pray for their protection and effectiveness as they work to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their ministry. We pray for our partners in Lebanon through our FOCUS initiative who are undergoing struggles and suffering in so many ways, in particular Pastor Joseph and those who are a part of the fellowship at Amchit Church. Be their source of strength and encouragement today and provide for their needs as only You can do.

So again, Lord, thank You for Your love for us this opportunity today to worship You.  And we love You because You first loved us!

In Jesus’ Name, amen.  

(Ken Kovalik, Elder Chair)

June 27 Annual Meeting Recap!

On Sunday, June 27, 2021, we held our Annual Business Meeting, and it was good see people in-person this time! It was a welcomed change from last year’s June Annual Meeting via video webinar.

Here are some of the highlights:

New Members

Pastor Jay Button welcomed four new members to Grace Point. It was exciting to see these new (and young) people take this next step in their involvement and commitment to Grace Point! Welcome!

Staff Recognitions

Lead Pastor Dave Wolf recognized Darrell Benjamin for his 20 years of service as Worship Coordinator at Grace Point. Darrell’s heart for the Lord and worship is evident in how he enthusiastically leads us each week.

Bill Wright was recognized for his 10 years of service as Director of Finance & Operations. Bill’s faithfulness to keep us on target with our finances and the daily operations of the church are highly valued and greatly appreciated!

Thank you, Darrell and Bill! Congratulations!

Staff Update

Dave Wolf also provided an update on several staffing transitions and plans going forward, highlighting the hire of Eileen Hemming as Care Coordinator, Donna Mulvaney as Interim Director of Children’s Ministry and Ann Kovalik in a part-time administrative support role for Children’s Ministry. Dave also provided some clarification regarding each transition and mentioned that plans are well underway to redistribute Pastor Jay’s responsibilities, as he will be stepping away from his role at Grace Point effective August 31, 2021. A celebration and send-off reception for Jay and Kim Button is scheduled for Sunday, August 29, 2021.

Further explanation regarding staff transition plans can be found in this document.

Financial Update

Bill Wright provided a summary of recent months’ giving and expenses, and where we stand year-to-date. Due to giving in May (down 7.5% over May 2020), our income-to-expense is in the red $71,468 year-to-date. We are projecting to end the fiscal year (ending June 30) in the red by $79,500 income-to-expense, and giving is projected to be below the budgeted need by $145,000. Bill assured that while there is a lot of red, the overall financial health of the church is good.

Bill presented the proposed budget for the 2021-22 ministry year, which reflects a $153,400 or 9.6% decrease over the current ministry year. This budget does include a part-time salary to fill the Ministry Administrative Assistant position, a position that was in last year’s budget, but hiring was put on hold.

Restatement of the Articles of Incorporation

Elder Keith Brown shared some background information regarding the purpose of the Articles of Incorporation and why they need to be updated. Keith invited Dave Kneller to share some encouraging words from Grace Point’s rich history, dating back to 1901, and how the church has seen similar financial struggles, and yet God remained faithful.

Reinstatement of Ken Kovalik as Elder

Ken Kovalik has been on sabbatical for the last year, and the membership was asked to vote to reinstatement Ken as an elder.

Head Teller

Andy Nichols has served as an Interim Head Teller for the last year. While the term for Head Teller is a three-year term, Andy has agreed to stay on as Head Teller (no longer interim) pending congregation vote.

Ministry Highlight – Missions & Hospitality

Joan Zeberlein gave an update on lots of happenings within Missions and Hospitality. She began by introducing the Missions Priorities Team that has been tasked with Grace Point’s missional values and core missional priorities. Joan also gave up date on a new set of missionary care teams, called Prayer and Care Teams (PAC Teams), that will provide encouragement and support through connection and prayer for each of our missionaries.

Lastly, Joan gave a brief recap of each area and announced that Children’s Check-in would be moving under the umbrella of Hospitality Ministry. Plans are underway to recruit additional team members and develop a cohesive strategy for welcoming guests and returning attenders consistently on a Sunday morning.

Closing

At the end of the meeting, Jack Edmond gave clear instructions for how to vote using the ballot that was e-mailed to members or by using the paper ballots distributed at the meeting. The results of the vote as of the conclusion of the meeting included an overwhelming majority “yes” vote on all four voting items. The meeting was then closed in prayer.

The Point – A Great Group to Connect With!

An Introduction to The Point, by Emma Holmes

The Heart of the Ministry

The heart of The Point ministry is creating and engaging a community of young adults by gathering and growing together through following Jesus and His teachings. The Point meets every Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m at Grace Point. This is a group of 20s and 30s that meet no matter where you are in your faith journey. In Hebrews 10:23-25, the writer captures this ministry’s heart completely by stating, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as in the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works”

Hebrews 10:24

Highlights of the Ministry

Some highlights of this ministry include seeing how this generation comes together to encourage one another with Biblical teachings and Christ-like love. Each week we welcome new faces to The Point, as well as greeting familiar faces too! Below are some of the smiling faces we see each week!

The Point is led by Emma Holmes, under the direction of Jeremy Davis, Director of Student Ministries.

Interested in learning more about The Point, email us at the.point@gracepointpa.org or follow us on Instagram.

Elder Prayer (6/20/21)

Our Father, we praise You for being El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty), El Elyon (The Most High God), and our Adonai (Lord and Master)! We worship the one true God, and You have many names that show how awesome and holy You are!

We are so very thankful to You for accepting us into Your family by the most amazing exchange—the blood of Your true Son given on the cross to make all of us helpless orphans into Your adopted children. As we celebrate the fathers in our lives, we give You praise for being the Father who never gives up. You’re always looking for Your prodigal sons and daughters to come home and to bask in the light and warmth of Your consistent faithful love.

And You call us to love like that as well: to lay down our pride, jealousy, competition and strivings, and to care deeply for the well-being of our brothers and sisters. We confess that we have at times chosen to compare ourselves with others, to pre-judge their motives simply because of the color of their skin, their political party, or the size of their bank account. In James 2, You command us not to show partiality or to divide based upon externals. Please forgive us for sinning by trying to do something that only You are qualified to do: to judge the hearts of other fallen people. Spirit, please show us how to rein in our self-reigning hearts. Challenge us through the faithful preaching of Your word today, we pray. Establish Your Kingdom in us as we surrender our lives to You.

We ask You to minister to our brother Khalil and his wife, our partners with Horizons International in Lebanon, who are both suffering from COVID, Khalil in the hospital and his wife unable to be with him. Care for them both, heal them we pray, and help them to know that Your Spirit is right there with them.

Jesus, You have called us to abide in You, and this promise is wonderful to cling to:  If we abide in You, and Your words abide in us, we are invited to ask whatever we wish, and it will be done for us.

So we are asking, Father, that You would pour out Your wisdom that is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere, and as we sow in peace please show us a huge harvest of righteousness.

Enable us to follow Your commandment that we fully and courageously love one another as You have loved us.

We worship You, the God who was, and is, and is FOREVER.  You outlast everything and You are the firm foundation on which we build our faith, our identity, our families, and this body of imperfect but surrendering believers—and we trust You as we place our hope in You.

Despite all that the enemy may say, Your truth is still true…and Your Kingdom is FOREVER! We take joy in rejoicing in You.

In the name of Jesus we pray, AMEN!

(Keith Brown, Elder)

STUDENT MINISTRY – SUMMER 2021 (by Jeremy Davis, Director of Student Ministry)

Hey Grace Point Family, 

I count it a blessing to share my heart and passion for ministry with you. It is hard to believe that it will be a year of serving at Grace Point in July for me. It has been a joy to serve alongside of you all. I wanted to share an update on the great things God is doing in the Student Ministry. 

The Student Ministry will have a fresh look for the summer!

First, we will have combined meetings for the summer with high school and middle school students from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Grace Point on Sunday nights.

Second, the school year curriculum (New City Catechism) will pause for the summer, and we will be looking at an elder provided resource called “A.S.K., Real World Questions/Real Word Answers” by David Robertson. This book investigates 52 student-submitted questions for which Pastor Robertson provides the biblical response. I asked our students to review the 52 questions and submit the ones they would like to study. The results were tabulated and created the topics throughout the summer.

Third, we understand that many students will be away throughout the summer, therefore, we are providing a video teaching of each question for students who missed and for parents to know what is being taught. You can access this HERE.  

Our young people are asking a lot of questions, and the wonderful truth is God’s Word answers them! Pray that God gives our young people a longing for His Word. Pray that this resource blesses the students and parents. Pray that youth group encourages students to ask questions they may have on their minds. Pray for the parents and guardians of our students as they have a big task of discipling their children in Christ. 

As always, you can reach out to me if you have any questions. My email address is jdavis@gracepointpa.org 

Your brother in Christ, 

Jeremy Davis 

Elder Prayer (5/30/21)

Behold how good and pleasant it is when God’s people dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)

Father in Heaven,

We gather together this day, sanctified and set apart for a holy purpose, in Christ Jesus, along with believers of every different tribe and tongue around the world who call Jesus Lord as we do.

It’s all about Your grace Father, in Jesus.

Yet, we often allow it to be about so much more that divides us. Forgive us.

You have been so faithful to us, and You’ve called us into the fellowship of Your Son, Jesus our Lord.

Baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit.

In this fellowship, there is no division.

You, the Son and the Spirit have enjoyed a divine dance of love for all eternity, showering each other with joy, praise, love and glory, endlessly. A divine dance that You call us to join.

In this divine dance we find true happiness, true joy, a true satisfaction not based on our circumstances. Our true identity and true relationship.

Father, we face a tough and determined enemy. An enemy that seeks to devour and destroy through discouragement and division.

Yet Lord Jesus, on the night You were betrayed by those closest to You, You prayed to the Father that we would not only be protected from the enemy, but that we would be One, just as You and the Father are One. That we would be in You.

No division.

United, though different. Dependent on each other and on each other’s differences.

We are different Father. We are fans of different teams. We come from different places. We like different foods. We ascribe to different political beliefs. We see problems in different ways. We look different, act differently, talk differently and think differently.

Yet in You, we are One.

United not in policies, programs, plans or purposes. But united in a Person, The Person of Jesus Christ.

So that the world might know that He, Jesus, was sent in the love of the Father, to save the lost.

Our unity, our oneness in Christ, is a testimony. Probably the strongest testimony we have against the onslaught of discord, division and destruction we see playing out all around us, here, near and far.

In this season where differences are elevated to existential threats, help us, Your Bride Lord Jesus, look different than the world around us, and be united.

Although unity does not mean conformity, differences don’t have to mean division.

Help us, Your Body Lord Jesus, to be visibly united to a world hurtling out of control into a Christ-less eternity. Help us make every effort to maintain this unity in You through Your Spirit, binding ourselves together in peace.

Help us be united in our care for those hurting in our midst, those recovering from significant health issues, or facing challenging financial issues, or losing hope in the face of endless disappointment. Help us be united as we navigate through a season of change, with staff departures, new additions, and new ways of doing things. Help us be united as we pursue healthy, open, transparent, other-centered discussion on a variety of topics. Help us be united as we honestly face and address the downward trend of giving, and its implications. Help us be united as we serve the needs of the neediest in our region. Help us be united as we partner, and unite, with our brothers and sisters in Lebanon. Help us be united as we show and tell the world who You are Jesus.

As Your Church, Your Bride, Your Body.

One Body, bound by One Spirit, all called to the same One Hope in Christ.

Christ in us, the Hope of Glory.

Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, providing us peace with God through His shed blood on that cross, and reconciling us and all things, all different things, to Himself. So that we can be One.

It’s in His name we pray, together as one. Amen.

(David Kneller, Elder)

A Reflection from a Father with Special Needs Children

Written by Jeremy Davis, Director of Student Ministry

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

The Davis Family

My wife, Tara, and I were sitting in the ultrasound room awaiting the results of our weekly ultrasound for our little girl who has a rare chromosome disorder. My phone buzzes, and it is Pastor Dave asking Tara and I to share a brief reflection on having special needs children. He wanted us to examine Psalm 139:13-16 and share our experience with other special needs families. As we’re awaiting the results to be read by the Maternal Fetal Medicine Doctor I begin reading out loud Psalm 139. We’re in the same room where many of expecting parents have heard devastating news about their child(ren), potentially news that their child would only have a few life-breaths before passing into eternity, news that their child will have a very challenging life ahead of them, news that no parent wants to hear of their child(ren) on the way. Does Psalm 139 change in these cases? Not one bit, in fact, as I’ve always thought long before having special needs children of my own, special needs individuals teach us so much about God.

God’s Word does not change when our circumstances do; 1 Peter 1:25 tells us that the Word of the Lord endures forever. These children, from the world’s perspective, are a mistake, an error in genetic coding, a mutation, a whoopsie, but from God’s perspective, these are wonderfully and fearfully made image bearers of God. This means they have incredible value in the eyes of God.

Being a special needs parent is tough, and there are often difficult questions to process through. The most common question that has rattled through my mind has been “Why? Why is this happening? Why would God allow this? Why? Why? Why?” These are natural questions to ask, and I’m thankful the Scriptures help answer these difficult questions. In John 9:1-3, the disciples observe a young man (at least 12 years of age) who was born blind. The natural question of that time was, “Who sinned to cause this man’s blindness?” Jesus reveals an important truth for every special needs family; Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The rest of the chapter unfolds with a beautiful narrative of how this man’s blindness displayed the works of God. Understanding this text changed everything for me. Instead of asking God, “Why have You done this?” I’m thanking God for the opportunity to see His works displayed in my children. I can share a multitude of ways that Elias’ life has made a lasting impression on others and how our unborn daughter has touched others; the works of God have already been displayed in their young lives.

We’ve established two truths thus far- special needs children are not a mistake, not a whoopsie. They are precious image bearers of God. We have also established that a child’s special needs give you a front row seat to watch the mighty works of God. With these two truths in mind, here’s an awesome encouragement for you all, which is one of the most profound things anyone has said to me. “Jeremy, you’ve been given an incredible gift. God has found you and Tara worthy to raise one of His precious children.” These words were from my previous youth pastor after sharing the news of Elias’ diagnosis. I praise the Lord for this truth. Instead of looking at this journey as a daunting, difficult task, I now have the freedom to see it as a precious gift, as I get to steward two of the most precious image bearers of God.

To my other brothers and sisters raising these blessings, God has found you worthy to raise His sweetest creations. What an awesome calling. What a weighty calling. These precious children are fearfully and wonderfully made; they are masterpieces created by God, knit together by His hand. You are not alone as you shepherd and disciple your children. You have your church family journeying alongside of you. More importantly, you have Christ. Always remember the promise Jesus made to His followers, “I am with you always, to the end of the Age” (Matthew 28:20b).

Your Brother In Christ,

Jeremy Davis