Staying the course

Think Back…You can never remember a time like this, can you? Turbulent, unsettled times…terrorism…political upheaval…the shredding of the moral fabric of our society…countless shifts in policies and programs and cultural fads. It can get scary.

So what is our posture? To lament, “God, take me home and get me out of this mess!” No, our deportment should rather be to stay the course, to fulfill our God-given mission: to help more people become fully committed followers of Jesus.

Why? Because this is the unwavering message brought to us in the pages of Scripture again and again:

Noah was called on to do something that seemed foolish—if not impossible—and he was mocked for it. Yet he stayed the course—and saved the human race.

Moses spent 40 years in the desert, caring for sheep, and 40 more years leading rebellious Israelites. Yet God gave him strength to stay the course—and he delivered the Israelites from 400 years of slavery.

Joseph was wrongly accused, nearly killed, imprisoned, but he stayed the course—and saved Israel from the devastating famine.

David was pursued within inches of losing his life, more than once. The king, whom he served, tried to kill him. Yet he stayed the course—and became the greatest king of Israel’s history.

Look at Jesus’ own life. He felt pressure. He groaned. He was troubled by the world. Yet he could say, in John 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

Stay the course. God speaks that same message to this generation.

We do not need to live in fear, no matter what the latest news cable might say. God knows what is happening and He knows what He is doing. And you are here for His purposes, not your own. So, stay the course.

A More Meaningful Christmas

Christmas is rushing towards us like a diesel train. It will be here before you know it. Then it will be gone as fast as it came. Christmas is a time of joy and frustration. A frenzy of preparations and merry-making, followed by weariness and even emptiness: Is that all we get? And that’s a shame.

Here are some ideas borrowed from FamilyLife that can help you make you and your family’s Christmas more meaningful, memorable.

  1. Talk about the names of Christ: There’s nothing more meaningful at Christmas than learning more about Jesus Christ, the Savior whose birth we celebrate. For He is so much more than a baby in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. In fact, Jesus is known by many other names in Scripture … and in the Christmas hymns we sing. He is the “King of kings,” the “Redeemer.”
  2. Conversation starters: Download this PDF with a list of questions to talk to your family and friends about Christ and Christmas. You may work these into normal conversation, but often they work best as part of a Christmas party or formal celebration with your family. You might pose a couple of questions to the group, asking everyone to answer one or both of them. For young children, be sure check out the “Questions for Kids” section.
  3. Share stories about how God has worked in your life: Ever told your children the story of your salvation; meeting your spouse. Use the holidays to share your personal stories about faith and life change.

Sermon Based Small Groups

Our mission is to help more people become fully committed followers of Jesus Christ. One way that happens is by connecting with others and growing in our faith, together. Small Groups are one way to connect with others at Grace Point.

Starting this week, we’re introducing Sermon Based Small Groups – using Discussion Questions based on that weekend’s message. Our sermon series this fall is taken from Genesis 1 – 3, entitled “Scarred.” If people from your Life Group miss Sunday morning’s message, they can go to GP’s website which promises to have the audio portion online by noon Monday. On that page, you’ll also be able to find the Discussion Questions.

All new groups will be using the Sermon Based Small Group Questions and will meet for 10 weeks. We’re asking new LG attendees to commit to seven consecutive weeks. After that it’s your decision if you want to continue with your group, or opt for another group beginning in January for 10 weeks.

For existing groups, you’re highly encouraged to try it out. It would be great to get all our groups aligned and on the same page for the fall. There are real advantages that benefit the church as we all study the same passage(s). This also helps new attenders to GP – there’s no hidden studies, or feelings of being left behind. We’re all together, and it’s easy to pick up if you’ve missed a week.

If you’re not in a group, we hope you’ll seriously consider joining one. You can always email Jay Button, Pastor of Connection at groups@gracepointpa.org if you have any questions or are interested in joining a group.

Stop Trying…

I have a Virtual Mentor, Michael Hyatt. He makes me think twice about stuff that matters. In a recent post entitled “The Difference Between Trying and Doing,” he said Tony Robbins once gave some advice to a woman who was struggling in her marriage.

“She stood up in one of his seminars to ask a question. She complained that she had “tried everything” to improve her relationship with her husband but nothing had changed.

Tony went on to make a distinction that I think is vitally important. He asked the woman to try to pick up the chair she was sitting in. She turned around and picked up the chair.

Tony said, “No, you picked it up. I said try to pick it up.”

The woman looked confused. Tony reiterated, “Try to pick it up.” The woman just stood there, not knowing what to do.

Tony continued, “No, now you’re not picking it up. I said try to pick it up.” Again, she picked up the chair.

Again, Tony, said, “No, you picked up the chair. I asked you to try and pick it up. You either pick it up, you don’t pick it up, or you try to pick it up.”

The point is that when we say we are trying we don’t really have to do anything. It also provides us with an excuse for why we didn’t accomplish the outcome we say we want.

Do you understand the difference? You either do something or you don’t do it. Trying is really the same as not doing it. It just makes it easier for us to let ourselves off the hook when we fail.

It made me stop and think…what am I “trying” to do? Wouldn’t it be better to ask, “What am I committed to doing? I’m trying to get in shape? Really? Or am I just trying? I’m trying to please my wife? Really? Or am I just trying to please my wife…and then complain about her to my inner self and others.

Bottom line…maybe it’s time to quit trying and just do it.

Romans 12:10, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

Father’s Day

Dad, what are you doing to make a difference when Father’s Day is over?

“Dennis Rainey, president of FamilyLife, was driving home at the end of one particularly long day, looking forward to relaxing. But his plans came to a halt when he turned on the radio and heard someone say, ‘I hope you did something of value today. You wasted a whole day if you didn’t.’

Realizing the most important work of his day was yet to be done, 10 minutes later he turned into his driveway. Six pairs of eyes soon surrounded his car with shouts of ‘Daddy … Daddy … Daddy!’

‘I did my best that night, and on the many nights that followed while my kids were growing up,” Dennis writes, “to leave, with God’s help, a legacy that counts. A legacy that will outlive me.’”

Cited from article, “Applauding Dads for what they do well” by Mary May Larmoyeux