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

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)

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)

Elder Prayer (Sunday 1/26/20)

Dear LORD, we thank You for being our great God, and for allowing Jesus to be our salvation—You have paid the huge debt that our sins had racked up for us by Your death on the cross. And You have made the way for us to inherit eternal life. 

Our loving Father, You allow us to grow through the questions that we ask of You, and of ourselves, and those that others ask of us. And like a sword that penetrates to the depths of our souls for healing purposes, You ask us questions in your Word [Hebrews 4:12-13].

So, we invite You through some prayerful questions to remind us of how great You are and how amazingly merciful You are to us.

You asked of Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” [Job 38:4a] and “Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like His?” [Job 40:9]”

And through the prophet Isaiah You asked: “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with Him?” [Isaiah 40:18] and “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.” [Isaiah 40:28]

Yet, despite being Almighty, You told us: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart [Jeremiah 29:13]”

Our Father, we are so prone to wander! You know every sinful thought we are harboring in our hearts, every wrong we have done, all the good we have withheld from others, and all the blame we have been shifting onto others, and so we fall on Your mercy and ask Your forgiveness. And we rest confident in the truth that You refuse to remember any of these [Hebrews 8:12; 10:17], choosing to remove them from us as far as the east is from the west [Psalm 103:12], and to hurl our sins into the depths of the sea [Micah 7:19]!

Jesus our Lord, while on earth You asked questions like: ”Who do you say that I am? [Matthew 16:15]” and “Why are you so afraid? [Matthew 8:26]” and “Are you also going to leave? [John 6:67]” and three times You asked Peter, “Do you love me? [John 21:15-17]”

Help us in this day and the days to come to answer these questions and to choose well—to trust You and to love you [Joshua 24:14-15]. May we follow You and not the world [Luke 16:13]—those things that would entice us away from our first love [Revelation 2:4]. Embolden us to help others to know the truth, believe the truth, grow in the truth and share the truth about You, Lord Jesus.

Why would frail and fallible people like Tim and Jacki Faulkner in Italy, or Abbie in the middle east, or Val and Cassie in east Asia, give of themselves by going to the ends of the world to tell about Jesus our Lord to people whose hearts are often hardened fields?

The answer is “because they are following You”—in Your love for this world, You generously gave Your Son so that whoever takes the one step of faith to believe in this truth will take a giant leap into Your eternal kingdom [John 3:16]. We pray for these missionaries that they would trust You and ask insightful questions as they share the Gospel. 

Please guide us, Spirit of God, in this worship service, to know more of You as we praise Your name together, as we bring our offerings, as we hear Your Word proclaimed, and as we go into Your world this week.

Whose very presence in a life gives freedom and release from anxiety and burdens of sin? [Psalm 55:22; Matthew 11:29-30; I Peter 5:6-7]] It’s Your Spirit within us! We ask You for the healing of hurts and diseases, of losses too deep for words, and of relationships broken or locked in bondage—please transform and deliver us. Your mercies are new every morning[Lamentations 3:22-23]—please bring us grace and peace [Philippians 1:2]!

Who is it that has purchased for us an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for each of us who have been born again through faith? [I Peter 1:4] He is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  To You be all of the praise, honor and glory! [I Peter 1:7] 

We ask that these questions would stay with us, goad us into action, and bring us back for more of You.

And we pray all in Jesus’ matchless name—AMEN!

(Keith Brown)

Pastoral Prayer (Sunday 1/19/20)

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:1-3)

God of the universe, You know us personally and care about what is on our hearts. Thank You for being completely trustworthy. Give us Your vision. Call us to bigger things beyond ourselves.

“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

Father, every soul is valuable to You; we are made in Your image. Give us Your heart of love for every people and every nation. Equip us to proclaim Your Gospel locally and throughout the world.

“How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with You.” (Psalm 139:17-18)

God, You care perfectly about every detail of our lives. Please comfort those who are experiencing grief or suffering. Thank You for those who are in a season of experiencing joy. Keep them close to You. Bless our junior high teens and leaders at retreat this weekend. Grow them in their walks with You. Guide the leaders of our country in Your ways. Give us all hearts to honor You in private and in public.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Lord, as we continue in worship today, draw our hearts to You through Your Holy Spirit and Your Word. Reveal to us any sin interrupting our personal connection to You. Bring it to light and give us humility to repent and be led by You into repentance, holiness and obedience.

Faithfully lead us in the way everlasting.

We ask all of this in the name of Jesus our Lord.

(Dave Wolf, Lead Pastor)

Elder Prayer (Sunday 1/12/20)

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 14:14-16)

Heavenly Father, our Lord and God, we come to You this morning to seek Your presence in our midst. To honor You and glorify You. Asking forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. Help us to know and live within Your will, supplying the strength we need to accomplish that.

We ask that You would be with Your church here at Grace Point. With Pastor Dave as he brings Your message this morning and with the entire pastoral staff, as well as all the staff who keep us going on a weekly basis.

We lift up to You the FOCUS Team as they determine the next steps of our outreach to Lebanon. And we lift up Denise Nichols as she leads this phase of the decision.

Console Tony Martin and his daughters in Sweden as they grieve the loss of Gwen. Guide and strengthen them as they continue their work for You. Be with all of Your faithful workers on the mission field throughout the world. Guide us on our mission field as we exit the doors of this building today.

Guide the Student Ministry Search Team as they look for a new Student Ministry Pastor/Director. Be with Tony Batres and his staff of volunteers as they keep the ministry moving forward.

Father, I ask that You would comfort and strengthen those dealing with difficult circumstances: illness, surgery, recovery, marital, financial, loss of work or depression. Whatever the need, Heavenly Father, I ask that You would supply the answer and each would feel Your presence in a special way.

Guide our nation. Be with our leaders, whether elected or appointed, on all levels of government: local, state and national. Assist them to be diligent and successful in representing and governing us.

Thank You, Father, for all the many blessings you have bestowed on us. We ask all of this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

(Jack Edmond)