Welcome again to Christmas!

Welcome again to the Christmas season! With Thanksgiving so early this year, I’ve been catching myself this past week thinking it’s already December, but in fact November has lingered. Now that the Advent season has truly arrived, I hope you’ll engage in these exciting opportunities this month:

Sunday Mornings in December – We will continue our series “The Heart of Christmas,” THC_title_slidelooking at four different types of hearts God came to visit that first Advent, and still visits today. This is a great time of year to invite friends who normally don’t attend Grace Point!

Christmas Eve – On Sunday, December 24 we’ll offer three identical family services at 10:30am, 3:30pm, and 5:00pm. There will be NO 9:00am service. Christmas Eve Services will include carols, special music, and candle lighting. Nursery will be available for infants and toddlers at all services.

Christmas Offering – This year’s Christmas Offering will be used in two key ways. The first is to bless our missionaries by sending each missionary family a Christmas/year-end gift. Each of our missionaries has expressed a decrease in their overall financial support, and we hope this special financial blessing will be an encouragement to them. By supporting our missionaries, we are giving to those planting new churches, mobilizing new missionaries to serve overseas, assisting troubled youth in Bucks County, spreading the gospel in local schools, reaching Muslims in remote parts of Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Central America.

The second half of our offering will be given to support our General Fund, the primary means by which we fund our ministries and offer outreach events like One Winter Night.

Contribute throughout December marking your check and/or envelope as “Christmas Offering.” All offerings collected on Christmas Eve will go toward our Christmas Offering unless otherwise designated. You may also give online: http://giving.gracepointpa.org

I also want to take a moment here to say thank you for your generosity as we collected $9,630 for our Thanksgiving offering to help with Hurricane Harvey relief.

Sunday, December 31 – There will be ONE SERVICE ONLY at 10:30am, an opportunity to look to the Lord as we begin a New Year. Children’s classes will meet as usual through sixth grade; there will be no Adult Bible Study.

Jesus set aside His glory to enter our world 2,000 years ago so He could love on hearts like yours and mine. Our leadership team at Grace Point is praying that your heart is drawn ever closer to Him during this very special season!

In Christ,

Dave Wolf
Senior Pastor

June Ministry Celebration recap

On Sunday evening we held our June Ministry Celebration and Business Meeting. It was an encouraging evening celebrating what God has been doing at Grace Point!

Here are some of the highlights:

  • We celebrated those who have taken the step of baptism this past year, by re-watching the video of Craig Stranahan being baptized in December!
  • Josh DeLeo was recognized for his faithful service in the A/V area, as he is stepping down to devote more time to his family.
  • Three staff members were recognized for their loyal service: JoAnn McDowell (17 years), Darrell Benjamin (15 years), and Steve Weir (15 years). Kudos to each of these special people for their vital contributions to our church family!
  • The Youth Pastor Search Team, and in particular Scott Leuz who served as chair, were recognized for their hard work in helping us find our new Youth Pastor, Greg Shelton. The Youth Transition Team was recognized for doing a great job keeping GP Youth going strong over the past year, thanking point person Bill Wright, along with Martin Hack, Matt Gibson, and John Kindred. And we celebrated the news that God provided a buyer for the Sheltons’ house in just over a week!
  • Charlie and Shirley McDonough were welcomed as new members to the church.
  • We heard a testimony from Julia Bonner, who took the three month “tithing challenge,” and shared how much God taught her through that experience.
  • Bill Wright, Director of Administration shared a financial update. Although giving is under budget, expenses have been less than giving and so we expect to end the fiscal year in the black – praise the Lord! For the first time in several years, giving has not declined from the past year but has leveled out. In addition to general fund giving, we have seen generosity demonstrated in special ways such as the Christmas and Easter offerings. Thanks to all who are practicing steady stewardship and gutsy generosity!
  • Dave Wolf, Senior Pastor, gave an update on the work staff is doing to develop strategies, goals, and objectives to address a central issue: helping people move from being me-centered to Christ-centered. The staff’s proposed goals and objectives will be reviewed by the elders later this month.
  • Glenn Ely, Elder Chair, led us in a vote that unanimously approved the 2017-18 budget, two new Management Committee members,
    • Treasurer: Tom Ames
    • Member-at-Large: Jan Haas
      and two other vital serving roles:
    • Church Clerk: Lynne Holmes
    • Head Teller: Dave Hefty (second 3 year term)
  • Glenn gave two elder updates: Jim Weber and Keith Brown will be observing a sabbatical year beginning July 1; and our two new elders, Dave Kneller and Rich Speeney, will begin their terms July 1. Jay Button is also planning a three month sabbatical, to begin in late August, pending final elder approval this month.

Praise the Lord for His work among us!

Receiving God’s Love

Use the Scriptures below to take time this week to marinate in God’s love, His LOVE IN ACTION as demonstrated through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ for you – because God wanted to close the gap of separation caused by our sin and failures.

Our love for God is fueled by His love for us!

Scriptures from the 4/9/2017 message:

1 John 4:19

1 John 4:7-10

1 John 4:16-19

John 15:13

Romans 5:7-8

Accounts of Jesus’ trial, suffering, and death:

Matthew 26-27

Mark 14-15

Luke 22-23

John 18-19

Other Scriptures about God’s Love:

Ephesians 3:14-19

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

Use Your Clout – Stop Exploitation

At the end of Sunday’s message on Confrontation, an opportunity was mentioned to Raised From Ruins“use your clout to help someone out.” We are privileged to live in a country where we can petition our law-makers to encourage them to do the right thing. Please consider using your voice to help those who are being exploited.

The following information on the progress of PA Bill 851, the Safe Harbor Act, is copied from the website of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, dated November 2016. You can find more details about Bill 851 here.

The 2015-2016 session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly officially closes on November 30. Here is the status of the several high priority bills that were on the legislative agenda of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.

Human Trafficking – Senate Bill 851 would have ensured that juvenile victims of human trafficking are not prosecuted as criminals and that support services are made available to them. No action was taken by the end of the session, but legislation may be reintroduced next session.

 

How to write a letter to your PA State Senator, to encourage him or her to reintroduce and pass this legislation:

To find the name and address of your State Senator, please visit “Find Your Legislator” and fill in the relevant information.

Click on the name of your Senator to be taken to their personal page.

You may email your Senator by clicking on the image of the envelope under your Senator’s picture.

If you prefer to mail a letter, you can find your mailing addresses for your Senator’s offices listed on the lower, left-hand side of the page.

You may also want to contact Senator GREENLEAF who was the prime sponsor for this bill.

In your letter, let your Senator know you support them in doing all they can to stop the exploitation of innocent victims.

 

Looking forward to 2017!

Dear Grace Point family,

As we close a chapter and enter a new year, we can be encouraged at all the spiritual New Yearactivity we saw in the closing months of 2016: three men entered into relationship with Christ, one of them followed with baptism, and we saw a surge in individuals and families indicating a desire to make Grace Point their church home –over 50 adults plugged into GP in 2016. Helping more people become fully committed followers of Jesus Christ – that’s what GP is all about!

In addition, you showed gutsy generosity in our special holiday offerings: Thanksgiving brought in $4,996, which supported our Bolivian friend Stefany Gomez in completing her Leadership Development program, and our missionary friends the Martins, who faced an unexpected tax bill. Our Christmas offerings totaled $31,659, providing support to our partner church in Bolivia as they pursue a building expansion project to meet the needs of their growing church; and churches in the heart of the Syrian refugee crisis, as they continue to provide for the needs of displaced people.

And while we’re on the topic of generosity, on behalf of the staff I want to express deep gratitude for the staff Christmas gifts we each received. Thanks to all of you who gave – you made Christmas very special for staff and their families.

As we now look ahead to 2017, we applaud the youth transition team who is doing a great job leading our students as we continue our search for a new Youth Director/Pastor. The latest update is that our hard-working search team will conduct Skype interviews with six candidates next week, from which they will identify 2-3 top candidates. From there, staff will get involved to narrow the field to which candidate(s) will come onsite for final interviews with staff and elders. Please continue to pray for God’s leading and timing in this important decision.

I am personally excited about the new sermon series we began Sunday, “Raised from Ruins.” The book of Nehemiah is a masterpiece on leadership, and I pray that God uses it in our lives as individuals and as a church to prompt us to make a lasting difference in our respective spheres of influence.

As Nehemiah was moved to pray, I hope you will join a church-wide prayer effort asking God to use Grace Point to help more people become fully committed followers of Christ. We will provide a prayer guide this Sunday, when 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting begins. The staff and elders value your prayers to guide our decisions and bring about all the good that God has in mind for us.

Looking forward to seeing God do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, so that He may get ever more glory through His church in 2017!

In Christ,

Dave

Fall Ministry Update!

Dear Grace Point family,

It’s hard to believe, but summer is nearly gone, school starts in a few weeks, and fall is upon us! Though we often hate to bring the vacation season to a close, the good news is that there is a lot going on at Grace Point this fall to help you become a more fully committed follower of Jesus Christ. I am excited to share the following update to inform your prayers and scheduling.

Youth Director Search Team – As Nate Korpi concludes his tenure as Youth Director at the end of August and prepares to go to the mission field, a search team is beginning to seek God’s next leader for our Grace Point Youth Ministry. Scott Leuz will be heading the team of elder-confirmed members, who will be introduced on Sunday, August 28.

A celebration and send-off for Nate and Jendi Korpi is being planned for teens and parents in September – date and time TBA soon. We will also hold a church-wide celebration and send-off nearer the time when the Korpis leave for their missions assignment, likely in early 2017.

Youth Ministry: Our Youth Transition Team led by Bill Wright has a full fall schedule planned. Here are the highlights:

Sundays: September 11 – new Sunday morning format will kick off during second service at 10:30 am with a pancake breakfast. Beginning September 18, teens are encouraged to join adults in second service for the singing portion of worship, and then will be dismissed at sermon time to go to class, where they will discuss the same sermon topic.

Thursdays: On September 15, the GP Youth midweek program begins from 7-9 pm weekly, with a format similar to this past year: food, fun, and Bible lesson.

Retreats: four retreats are scheduled for the school year, beginning with the Fall Retreat October 28-30.

More details on youth events will follow soon, with direct communication to teens and their families.

Children’s Ministry: Cassandra DeWitt and her team are ready for a new year of ministry!

Sunday September 11 – Sunday morning fall kick off.

Wednesday September 14 – Wednesday Kids Club begins, weekly 6:30-8:00pm.

Wednesday September 28 – Block Party at 6:30 pm for all families with children through junior and senior high school. This is a great time for families who are new to Grace Point to learn more about what GP Kids Ministry is all about!

Young Adult Ministry: For high school graduates through age 29, a new weekly meeting time will be offered this fall:

Wednesdays, beginning September 21, at the home of Glenn and Lynn Ely (419 Woodhill Road, Newtown), with a light dinner at 6:30 pm, followed by Bible discussion from 7-8:30 pm. This will run for ten consecutive weeks.

Social events are also planned during the year.

8/28 – Lunch ‘n Learn: There is a place for YOU to serve and be part of what God is doing this fall at Grace Point! Sunday, August 28 following second service, join your GP staff for one hour as we enjoy lunch together and find out about volunteer serving opportunities in all ministry areas. 11:45 am in rooms A4-6.

9/4 – Bridesburg & Bolivia Missions Trip Highlights – Be encouraged as Missions and Communications Director Steve Weir calls our missions teams to share what they experienced this summer as they stepped out of their comfort zones and saw God at work. Highlights will be shared during the Sunday Service on September 4, followed by an in-depth look over lunch at 11:45 am in rooms A4-6.

9/11 – Marriage Ministry Kickoff – Learn more from Chuck Arnold, Pastor of Congregational Care, about Grace Point’s new initiative to strengthen marriages. Mark your calendars for a new marriage class that begins Sunday, October 23 at 9 am, and the Great Date Night event on Saturday, October 22 at 7 pm.

9/18 – Fall Groups Launch: Find a new group in your neighborhood. Many new groups will be “sermon-based,” that is, their discussion will follow the topics from our Sunday sermons and meet for ten consecutive weeks. The fall sermon series, also launching 9/18, will focus on foundational truths presented in Genesis 1-3.

So there you have it – something to help everyone become more fully committed followers of Jesus. Looking forward to what God has in store for us all this fall!

In Christ, Dave

Bolivia: Not What I Was Expecting

Let me be candid: my trip to Bolivia was not what I was expecting.

Don’t get me wrong – I was expecting to learn. But most of the things I learned were not what I had in mind ahead of time.

I did not expect to learn that joy really is possible in the midst of seemingly hopeless circumstances. We met friends who have so very little in the way of material possessions, yet their faces beam a joy that can only come from the Lord.

I was not looking for evidence to prove the old cliché, “If you can make a difference for only one, it still matters to that one.” Turns out that “cliché” is really a profound truth, and is happening over and over again, one child at a time.

I did not know I would witness a drive to spread the gospel that often gets lost in the busyness of our first world pursuits of “success.” That drive is alive and well in Bolivia and people are being rescued every day from a Christ-less eternity. (May it be so in Bucks County!)

I did not expect the clarity that ministry is about people and not programs. If at the heart of ministry we are not about loving and serving others, we have missed it completely.

I did not know my daughter could instantly have such love for a little boy from another continent who speaks a different language, yet who in three days came to call her “Tia” – aunt. I am thankful that we can stay connected through letters and pictures – they mean the world to sponsored children. Here are some great ideas to write a letter to your child right now.

I did not expect to become so attached to people I knew for only a week. But the truth is, I’ve left a piece of my heart behind on a dusty hill outside Cochabamba.

Our team had an amazing time and look forward to sharing more in the weeks to come.  Thanks to our great God and to all who made this trip possible.

Geocaching: Take Your Tech Fun Outdoors

Several years ago our family discovered geocaching. Geocaching is like a high-tech treasure hunt game using an app on your phone to locate hidden containers, called geocaches. We have found geocaches in coffee cans in the woods, buried under a fence in a local park, and wedged into an old stone bridge.

What makes it challenging is that your phone’s GPS will only get you within 10-15 feet, so you have some work to do from there. Often you need to patiently scour the area, and occasionally get help from a cleverly-worded hint.

Some geocaches contain a small treasure like a coin or small toy, which you may take with you, but then you must leave something of equal or greater value. Other geocaches hold nothing more than a paper log where you can write your personal geocache ID and the date you found it. The real treasure is the success of the find!

We have found this a great family activity that gets us out, active, and enjoying some fresh air any time of year. To top it off, the app is free! For more info, search “Geocaching” where you find your apps, or check out my favorite geocaching website.

Ministry Celebration and Biz Meeting Recap

Sunday night’s business meeting was a great time of celebrating what God has been doing among us lately – here are the highlights!

Restoration Church – Pastor Ross Manders thanked Grace Point for the vision and resources that allowed RC to get off the ground. Together we celebrated the amazing work God has done to position RC to be independent in just over two years, and Paco Batres prayed for God’s continued blessing on the new church.

GP Youth – Maura Giannone shared the impact of GP’s youth ministry on her life, specifically thanking Nate and Jendi Korpi for their investment. Nate gave a brief recap of next steps toward becoming a missionary with Converge. Dave Wolf shared that Scott Leuz will head up the Youth Director Search Team, with the elders beginning work to identify members of the search team. Bill Wright will serve as staff point person for Youth Ministry during the time of transition, with several key volunteers overseeing youth programming on Sunday morning, Thursday night, and outreach activities.

Missions Update – Appreciation was expressed for Tim Yoder’s work on the GO Team, as he is stepping down after leading for the past year. Steve Weir has begun his new role as Director of Missions and Communications.

Three items were presented for vote, and all were overwhelmingly approved:

Paco Batres was reinstated as elder; Paco has experience with several previous terms as elder at Grace Point, and much respect.

The 2016-17 Budget represents a 4.8% increase over 2015-16 giving and retains the most crucial funding for ministry, missions, and staffing. We also celebrated God’s provision as our expected fiscal year 2015-16 deficit of $90,000 turned into a surplus, and we will end the FY in the black. Thanks to our Grace Point family for pulling together to support God’s work – we are positioned well to launch a new year of ministry!

Constitutional Changes include a definition of marriage in the “Humanity” section of our statement of faith, and updated language related to constitutional mentions of deacons and deaconesses. The elders have adopted a position paper, titled “God’s Design for Marriage,” available upon request from the office. The updated Statement of Faith is available on our GP website.

Psalm 40:5 sums up the evening well -a time of giving God glory for the great things He has done!

You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
Your wondrous deeds and Your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with You!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.
Looking forward to what God will do in the year to come!