Elder Prayer (Sunday 12/8/19)

Heavenly Father,

At this time of the year when we remember the first coming of Jesus into the world, we lift up our hearts and voices in praise to You, for sending Your Son to us to be our Savior– so that through Him we can be brought back into right relationship with You and receive Your gift of an eternity with You – by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

Heavenly Father, we rejoice when we call to mind the glorious truth that the eternal Light of the world came to earth to become our Redeemer – to give His life for a lost world and to pour peace and hope into the hearts of a people who were estranged from their God. We stand in awe when we recall that He set aside His glory and majesty and closeness with You to take on the form of a man and be born into this world as a tiny, helpless baby, in such humble circumstances. He humbled Himself in obedience to You, and suffered and died a death He did not deserve, so that we can be saved.

Father, may our lives reflect Jesus’ obedience and love as we look back to the first Advent – but help us not forget that there is a future Advent – a second coming when the earth will be filled with Your glory. Lord Jesus, You are returning not as a tiny baby lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes, but as a conquering King, with power and great glory, to fulfill all promises, to judge with justice, to rule in righteousness.

Lord, I pray that You will find us, Your Church, ready and working, prepared for Your return. And, as much as we pine for the sentimentality of this season, help us to remain mindful that we have a job to do. Purify our hearts and sanctify our lives so that we may serve You in newness of life not only in this special season but every day of our lives.

We come to You this morning with many needs Father. And You already know each and every one. In fact, You have allowed each one into our lives to help us mature and become more like Jesus, and to drive us to dependence on You.

We lift up to You the hurting this season. The grieved, the discouraged, the depressed, the suicidal. Help them know that You not only came near through Jesus so many years ago, but You are near, with them, now. Help this to comfort them.

We lift up to You those with physical ailments of many kinds. Some are irritating, some are life threatening, all are not what we planned for. Help them know that You are able to heal, but that even if You don’t, You are Sovereign and worthy of our praise, and even in sickness, we can be witnesses of Your love, mercy and grace.

We lift up to You financial difficulties of all kinds. Help us not be fearful of or mastered by money, but to place our treasure in Heaven, remembering that You will provide all that we really need when we need it, and if we don’t have it, then it’s a safe bet we probably don’t need it. Our church has a significant budget shortfall Father, move on hearts and provide what we need to do the ministry You have called us to do.

We lift up to You the many events this season. We are thankful for a wonderful turnout and time together for the Women’s Christmas Tea this past week. We humbly lay before You our desire to serve this community this coming Friday night through One Winter Night. So many hours of preparation, so many hands sacrificing time and energy. Use it all Lord, including the parades, to help those who need You to feel Your love, to draw our community to You, and for You to be glorified. Regardless of the weather, regardless of the numbers, regardless of the last-minute glitches, take this our humble offering, be in it, and make much through it.

We are hopeful this season Father. Hopeful that wrongs will be righted, hopeful that hurts will be healed, hopeful that relationships will be restored, hopeful that lives will be changed. You are the God of hope. You have planted hope deep within our souls. By the power of Your Spirit, help us abound in hope. We watch, we wait. Knowing that You are Faithful to complete all that You have purposed. Just as You were Faithful to send Jesus to us that first Christmas, even though the world waited so long. Remind us this season that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by letting us have our own way and getting all that we want, but by allowing us to wait, bearing in love and patience, carrying many unanswered questions, so that we can come to the place where we truly can pray, ‘Thy will be done’.

Thank You, Father, for the Living Hope that we have through the resurrection from the dead of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. It’s in His name we pray all this, Amen.

(David Kneller)

Depression Resources

 

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Life’s Good, I’m Worried, a podcast looking at the intersection of mental health and faith. Hosted by Cassie McCullough and Jessica Wolf, both of Grace Point!

 

 

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There are a number of video resources available on RightNow Media – click here to see a list. RightNow Media is available to regular attenders of Grace Point – click here to request access.

 

 

Turn Your Life Around   Noted counselor and author Dr. Tim Clinton writes about overcoming the troublesome things of your past in order to face a brighter future.

 

 

The Lies We Believe by Dr. Chris Thurman. In a world that is veering dangerously off course from what it calls “truth” comes a classic work that unmasks the lies we unwittingly believe, lies that destroy us and ultimately damage our emotional health, relationships and spiritual life.

 

To get help locating a Christ-centered therapist nearby, contact our Pastor of Congregational Care, Chuck Arnold.

12 Months Later – Water Wells in Cambodia

Many of you may remember that last year’s combined Thanksgiving and Christmas offering was designated to help build fresh water wells in villages in the country of Cambodia by partnering with Samaritan’s Purse. We had set a goal of raising $20,000 for these wells.

Not only did we meet our goal, but we surpassed it! In the end, we raised $60,000 for the fresh water well projects. Wow!

Many of you have been asking, “What happened? Did they build the wells? Is there an update?” I have good news! Last week, I received an update from Samaritan’s Purse, and it included a video from the village!

Over the last 12 months, the staff and personnel with Samaritan’s Purse have been actively working to build and complete the wells in three villages in Cambodia. Below is a video from one of the project leaders thanking Grace Point personally for our generosity in helping to build these wells, and bring much needed fresh water to these people.

Thank you for your generosity and for helping to bring fresh water to the 300 families (1,500 people) in three villages of Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia.

Dirty Water
Previous water supply for the village.

Completed Water Well
A completed fresh water well in the village.

Children from the local school who live in the village.

“When I Don’t Desire God” by John Piper

Sometimes we may feel far from God, and life feels heavy. Sometimes we get lazy or too busy, and we neglect to read the Bible for a time.

In his book When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper contends that the only way to know real joy as a Christian is to pursue the Word of God. Not just pursue it, but to actually fight daily for this joy. It is a battle for our time and our minds.

Before reading this book, I never thought of pursuing God’s Word in the morning as a daily battle. Now I realize how precious this time is and how easily we can let daily life distract us from this joy.

I recommend John Piper’s book, and it can be found in the Grace Point Library! Visit us soon ~ we are open any time the church is open!

~ Barb Lewis

GP Library – Book Reviews

Book review by Sue Gibson ~

Recently I read a wonderful book I discovered in the GP Library, Counted With the Stars, by Connilyn Cossette. This biblical fiction novel is the first in the amazing Out of Egypt trilogy, which is offered in our library. The story traces the journey of Kiya, a young Egyptian slave woman, during the time when the terrifying plagues strike Egypt. She chooses to flee with the Hebrews when Moses leads them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. Hope in and redemption through the Lord is highlighted in Counted With the Stars as Kiya surrenders her life and future to Yahweh.

The second book, Shadow of the Storm, continues during the first year’s journey following the cloud as God leads the Hebrews through the wilderness. This book follows the life of Shira, a young Hebrew woman who serves as a mid-wife and who worships Yahweh, but is not sure of His purpose for her life. This is complicated further after a tragic delivery. But God’s faithfulness can be traced through the pages of Shadow of the Storm.

The final book, Wings of the Wind , pursues the adventures of Alanah, a youthful Canaanite woman who is captured in battle by a Hebrew warrior. God’s sovereignty places her in a strategic location during the battle of Jericho. Alanah’s family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, and she disguises herself, sneaks onto the battlefield and determines to avenge her family. See how God works behind the scenes to accomplish HIS plans!

All three books in this trilogy will inspire you to read the background for these stories in your Bible. You will be kept in suspense as God brings a loving Hebrew man into each of their lives.

Our GP Library has all three of these wonderful books, and I encourage you to visit the library very soon! ~ Sue Gibson

To reach our Librarian, Barb Lewis, please email: library@gracepointpa.org.

Staffing Changes

On Sunday, September 15, after second service, I provided a detailed explanation of several important staffing changes happening over the coming months. Here is a summary of the most significant changes:

organization-chart-1989132_1920.pngGP LEAD Team – the staff is being restructured into four ministry areas, overseen by:

  • Pastor of Discipleship (future hire – for now overseen by Dave Wolf)
  • Arts & Communication Pastor (Steve Weir)
  • Outreach & Mobilization Director (Joan Zeberlein)
  • Operations & Finance Director (Bill Wright).

These four supervisors will meet regularly with myself as Lead Pastor to set key goals which spur our church to win and grow disciples who make disciples.

Joan Zeberlein transitioned to full time at Grace Point August 1, and has been working hard to build the Hospitality Team. As noted above, Joan will be working her way toward oversight of the entire Outreach & Mobilization area, but not until Women’s Ministry has a solid leadership team in place.

Steve Weir will be handing off missions and giving more concentrated attention to our complex communication needs. In addition, he will be championing creativity in all areas – for example, he will now be able to devote more energy to video production to promote our various ministries.

Chuck Arnold is looking to reduce hours significantly and enjoy a greater degree of retirement by July 1, 2020. To that end, he will be handing off several areas of his responsibilities such as attendance tracking and new guest follow up. We are working to ensure that there is no lapse in the excellent care Chuck provides to our church family.

Jay Button will remain full time until May 2022 at which time he expects to continue part-time in ministry at Grace Point. For now he is continuing his vital work with Groups and Men’s ministry, and is now providing oversight of the College & Career Ministry and working on several mentoring & leadership development initiatives.

Tony Batres continues to do a great job as interim Student Ministry Director and has agreed to continue until we have identified a permanent Director or Pastor over this area. A search team will commence around early November and will thoroughly consider Tony for the position, before looking at any other candidates.

For those who contact the office with administrative needs, please note the new roles of our admin staff:

Cyndi Kern is our part-time Ministry Administrative Assistant and has taken over most of JoAnn McDowell’s receptionist responsibilities (after JoAnn retired at the end of April) and provides support to Cassandra DeWitt, Chuck Arnold, Jay Button and Dave Wolf.

Sharon Sloan has stepped into a newly-created, full-time role as Ministry Administrative Team Lead as of June 1, 2019. Sharon takes care of Calendar and Building Usage Requests and supports Steve Weir in Communications and Special Events, and Tony Batres in Student Ministry. She also serves as liaison to ministry leaders.

Please join me in expressing your support for our great staff, and pray with us for a smooth transition through these changes over the coming months.

Dave Wolf, Lead Pastor

Serve: Step Up to Grow Up!

As we learned from Ephesians 4:11-16, there’s an awesome WIN-WIN when we choose to step up and serve using the gifts God has given: we mature as individuals, AND we build up our Grace Point community of faith.

Serve

So take a risk, step out of your comfort zone, and get off that spiritual sofa to see what God has in store…link over to our webpage that shows areas of ministry you might consider – and take a test drive!

SERVE opportunities online

FOCUS Survey Trip Prayer Requests – Thailand

Thank you for praying for our FOCUS Survey trips! We had a great trip to Lebanon and now we look ahead to our Thailand Survey trip. Here’s how you can pray for our team!

Prayer Requests for Grace Point Survey Trips
Thailand Trip / August 21-28

  1. Pray for the FOCUS Selection Team as they get better acquainted with the ministry of Converge in Thailand. Pray for the director of the Thai Buddhist Initiative, Rick Berry.
  2. Pray for the spiritual preparation of the survey team going to Thailand: Steve Weir, Dave Wolf, Denise Nichols, and Ellen Livingood. Ask God to give them spiritual discernment, clean hearts, and minds yielded to the Lord. Pray for good health and safety before, during, and after the trip. The weather will be hot and humid, so pray for endurance during long days.
  3. Pray for each of the missionaries and national Thai pastors and leaders with whom the GP team will meet. Ask God to use the GPers to encourage and be a blessing to these men and women. Pray that each conversation will help to give a clear picture of what God is doing and how partnership might contribute.
  4. The team will leave on Wednesday morning, August 21, for Newark airport and a non-stop, 16-hour flight to Hong Kong. After a 2½ -hour layover, there will be another three-hour flight into Bangkok, arriving Thursday evening at 11:30. Pray that each person can get some quality sleep on this long trip.
  5. Pray for stamina for the team on Friday, August 23, as they spend the day seeing English centers with Converge missionary Steve Cable and then attend a church service in the evening. Ask God to give each person the ability to focus and absorb lots of new information despite jetlag. Pray that the GPers will be guided to ask insightful questions.
  6. On Saturday, August 24, the team will meet with leaders of the ministry that is teaching English to women who have been caught in the sex trade. Ask God to give the team the ability to understand some of the complexity of ministry to women caught in this vast evil that unfortunately is a trademark of Bangkok. Pray that our Grace Pointers can be an encouragement to those who work with these women.
  7. On Sunday, August 25, the team will take a short flight to Udon to see a training ministry that Converge is involved with there. Pray that our GPers can begin to understand the leadership needs for the new house churches that God is raising up all across this land and what the opportunities are like to be a part of serving church leaders in training.
  8. On Monday, August 26, the team will spend the day learning about the background of Thai culture and Buddhist religious beliefs and practices. Pray that they will be able to see the implications for ministry in this nation where only an estimated ½ of 1 percent are evangelical believers.
  9. On Tuesday, August 27, the team will spend a portion of the day meeting with local Thai leaders. Pray for good translation and clear communication. Ask God to help GPers grasp the big picture as they are exposed to so much new information.
  10. Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, August 27, Steve, Dave, and Denise will start their journey home. Pray for the connection in Hong Kong and for rest on the long journey. Ellen will take a short flight to Singapore where she will spend the next three days doing training with a number of sending-base leaders, board members, and volunteers who serve with the mission agency World Outreach. Pray that each of these sessions will be highly valuable to these people who are mobilizing sending churches in places as different as South Africa, the Netherlands, and Malaysia.

Converge Responds: El Paso, Dayton Tragedies

This past weekend our headlines were again filled with reports of violence and tragedy and our hearts were saddened and heavy at the news of more lives lost. We struggle to find answers and are unable in the midst of these senseless acts.

Scott Ridout, president of Converge, has written the following response that I find helpful and full of reminders in the midst of these tragedies.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity (Col. 4:5).

Lisa and I were looking forward to quiet first weekend of August. We had experienced a busy summer of travel, including ministry trips to Minnesota, Canada, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and a great time with our missionaries from Europe and Africa in Germany, followed by a week of vacation in Virginia. It was good to finally be home. Our only responsibilities this weekend were serving at church and helping prepare for our first “Back to School” event – a “drive-in” movie (kids make cars out of cardboard and watch a movie in the car – yeah, you can steal that one!).

On Saturday morning, I had a small window of time to do work on the roof before the rain came…again (I live in the “Sunshine State” – which to me is more of an aspiration than reality in the summer here).

It was Lisa’s birthday weekend, so we went out to dinner to celebrate and went home to relax.

That’s when I heard the news…

“Twenty people were killed and dozens more injured on Saturday morning in a massacre at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart that was packed with back-to-school shoppers, making it one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.”*

It was discovered later that the shooter had written a personal manifesto. He later told investigators he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible.

I never know what to think when I hear things like that.

“Why?”

“Who thinks like that?”

“Why would you want to shoot someone based on their country of origin?”

“Are people really that sick?”

I thought about all my friends from Mexico and Texas. I thought about my church and our sister congregation, Harvest in Español, and made a mental note to talk with the pastor, Ramon Garcia, to get his perspective. Being truly vulnerable, I was a little upset with myself that I was not more broken up by the news. Yet it has happened so often recently, it has begun to feel like a new normal – unacceptable, but normal.

Later Saturday evening I got the chance to watch a little of the NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I turned on the set when Champ Bailey was talking. I had great respect for him as a player and I loved watching him play. My heart sank as I heard him give an impassioned plea:

“The first thing people see when they look at me is not a Pro Football Hall of Famer or a husband or a father. They view me first as a black man. So, on behalf of all the black men that I mentioned tonight, and many more out there who’ve had the same experiences that I’ve had in my lifetime, we say this to all of our white friends: When we tell you about our fears, please listen. When we tell you we’re afraid for our kids, please listen. When we tell you there are many challenges we face because of the color of our skin, please listen. And please don’t get caught up in how the message is delivered.”

I found myself tearing up as I heard him speak. I realize that while it is impossible for me to feel the fullness of the pain of his personal journey, but my hope is that I am becoming more aware and compassionate toward the challenges to people of color and minority cultures in our country. I was also grateful for the journey that God has our movement of churches on in this area. No doubt, we have a long way go…I have a long way to go…but we are willing to go on the journey.

Sunday morning, I woke up to the news: “In a second mass shooting in less than 14 hours, at least nine people are dead and more than two dozen were wounded early on Sunday after someone opened fire in downtown Dayton, Ohio.”*

Again? Two times in one weekend? What is going on?

I began to reflect in my mind… Columbine, Redlake, Virginia Tech, Foot Hood, Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook, D.C. Navy Yard, Charleston, San Bernardino, Pulse, Dallas, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Parkland, Tree of Life, Thousand Oaks… and now this. And, yeah, I know there are dozens more that aren’t top of mind and don’t even include the ones that came to mind from around the world.

I grieve over so many common ground issues in these scenarios. Deranged thinking. Devaluation because of color, class and culture. Senseless actions. Helpless victims. Tragic loss. Ripple effects for generations. Families and communities full of grief, pain and fear.

No doubt we will have outrage, posturing and blame-casting in the political arena. Hopefully we will have robust discussion that results in needed change and meaningful preventative action in the local arena. I ask you to pray that God will lead our leaders to live on the “solution side” of these issues and make godly, right judgments resulting in meaningful progress.

But you do realize that the only lasting hope for our world is the gospel of Jesus Christ, right?

When the gospel is planted in the life of a new believer, it is joined by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, the wisdom of the word of God and surrounded by the encouragement of God’s people. As more and more individuals are changed by the gospel, it transforms communities. As communities are transformed, it transforms regions. As regions are transformed, so are countries…and so on.

Transforming the country seems too big a task for any one of us to take on. But throughout the centuries God has been transforming the world…one life at a time. And he asks us to join him in this work.

In our country, the Back to School season is one of the most likely times for people to consider visiting a local church. Many are getting back into their life routine after a restful but less than routine summer schedule. Wouldn’t it be great if church became a part of their new routine?

We as believers recognize that the work of the church is absolutely essential in our world. Hope, help and healing come from Jesus – Jesus changes everything! He is the one who transform people. And the church (the people, not the programs) is God’s means to get the message of Jesus to those who so desperately need it. Every individual in our communities deserves to hear about and needs to experience the transforming power of the gospel.

I have four things that God has put on my heart to do with what happened this weekend. I’d love for you to join me in taking next steps in these areas:

  • Take a moment and pray for our country, our communities and our churches. Commit to keep them in prayer on a regular basis in prayer.
  • Think of a few people outside the faith and commit to invest in friendship to model the hope of Christ in their lives in hope that they would one day meet Jesus.
  • Invite someone who doesn’t have a church home to join you next weekend at your house of worship.
  • Take the next step to get deeply involved BOTH in the life of your community and your church. Serve with your time, talent and treasure in our local congregation. If possible, reach across a racial, ethnic or cultural divide in your community to listen, learn, lament and love.

I sense that these are the first steps we need to take to keep our hearts soft and our lives and churches on mission. I pray that this might be a very fruitful season of ministry in your personal circle of concern as well as your community. May we be prayerful in our hearts, joyful in our posture, winsome in our witness, engaging in our connections, hopeful with our words, bold in our invitations, God-honoring in our lives and effective in our mission to help people meet, know and follow Jesus as we start and strengthen churches together worldwide.

* News reports from ABC News

CONVERGE IS A MOVEMENT OF MORE THAN 1300 CHURCHES WORKING TO HELP PEOPLE MEET, KNOW AND FOLLOW JESUS. WE DO THIS BY STARTING AND STRENGTHENING CHURCHES TOGETHER WORLDWIDE.

FOCUS Survey Trip Prayer Requests

As we look ahead to our FOCUS Survey trips, we invite and need you to pray for our teams and for God’s leading in the FOCUS process.

Prayer Requests for Grace Point Survey Trips
Lebanon Trip / July 25-August 1

  1. Pray for the FOCUS Selection Team as they meet on Wednesday, July 10, to prepare and to get better acquainted with the ministry of Kinship and its partners in the Middle East: Horizons International (HI) and Ananias House (AH). Pray for an expanded understanding of the complexity of the context as well as the exciting ministry opportunities.
  2. Pray for the spiritual preparation of the survey team going to Lebanon: Steve Weir, Amie Kiryluk, Denise Nichols, and Ellen Livingood. Ask God to give them spiritual discernment, clean hearts, and minds yielded to the Lord.
  3. Pray for the staff of the Kinship partners in Lebanon as they prepare to host our survey team, specifically Christine, the HI visit coordinator; Khalil, in charge of developing church partnerships across Lebanon for HI; Louis, HI’s director of expat ministry in the Middle East, and Maggie, onsite AH ministry coordinator.
  4. Pray for good health and safety before and during the trip. The weather will be quite hot, so pray for endurance during long days. Pray that the team can stay focused despite jet lag and weariness.
  5. Pray for good translators and clear communication everywhere the team goes. Pray for good communication within the GP team too. Ask God to help them be discerning as they are exposed to so much and to encourage each other all along the way.
  6.  Pray for each of the pastors in Lebanon with whom the GP team will meet. Ask God to use the GPers to encourage and be a blessing to these leaders who are always stretched thin by the demands of their congregation as well as the immense physical and spiritual needs around them. Pray that each conversation will give a clear picture of the church’s vision, the current ministry, the potential for partnership, and concrete ways GP might contribute.
  7. Pray for the day trips that GP will make to tent camps in the Beqaa Valley and to children’s camp ministry in the Tyre area. Pray for a good understanding of the diversity of ministry that is based on the diversity of needs and opportunities.
  8. Pray that the GP team will be able to enjoy worship with Arab brothers and sisters, sensing the joy of their spiritual life that is deeper than the daily problems they face.
  9. Pray the team will be able to gain an understanding even of ministries that they will not have the opportunity to see firsthand. For instance, the School of Hope that provides an education for dozens of very poor refugee children will be on summer vacation.
  10. Pray for the time the team spends with two church leaders who will be coming out of Sy_a to meet with them. Pray that these men’s hearts will be encouraged by the interest of the GP team. Pray for the ability for the GP team to grasp the difficulties and the opportunities that describe the situation inside this war-torn country today.