A Fond Farewell to Jay & Kimi Button

On Sunday, August 29, we celebrated the years of ministry given to Grace Point by Pastor Jay Button and his wife, Kimi. The pastors and elders prayed for Jay and Kim during the morning worship services. We are sharing this prayer to the Lord to thank Him and in anticipation of His responses. Jay and Kim — we thank the Lord for you both!

Loving Father…we are extremely thankful today for Your chosen man, Jay Button, who you called decades ago into ministry—to preaching, teaching, shepherding, and caring for Your flock—to a lifetime of humble service.

Father, we are together giving You thanks for bringing our brother Jay, along with his dear wife, Kim, here to Grace Point. We hold Jay and Kim in the highest regard in love because of their service to You.

We ask You to grow and strengthen the faith that Jay and Kim have already displayed by leaving what is known and familiar, to step, in the same way that Abraham and Sarah did, toward something new that is only known (so far) by You. 

We ask You to give Jay a constant zeal for Your church, and to use Jay in a mighty way despite any personal challenges he may face.  Help Jay to live each sermon before he preaches it—to personally apply Your Word in his life so that he can be most effective in exhorting Your people to action. 

We know You don’t define greatness in the same way that we do—man looks at the outward appearance, but You, Lord God, look at the heart.  So we thank You for giving Jay a heart that follows closely after Yours, a heart that passionately pursues Your Kingdom in the midst of a broken and decaying world, a heart that clearly and lovingly shows the way to Jesus and to saving faith in Him no matter who is asking for directions, and a heart that seeks restoration for people whose lives are in pieces—as well as for those who think they have it all together.

Please give Jay the patience he will need to deal with people’s conflicts, and help him to persevere even when they don’t appreciate his pursuit of peace. Help those who Jay leads to loyally support him with wise and understanding hearts.

Dear Jesus, we praise Your name—You’re the One who saved us from eternal punishment and You’re the One who daily saves us from sin’s devastation.  We commit Jay and Kim to be Jesus to the many souls they will encounter in the future, just as they have been among us, so that others would come to know more of the best news ever—the gospel that restores the broken, heals relationships, and transforms lives.

Father, we know that this couple can mentor others well!  Please enable Jay and Kim to mentor with spiritual sensitivity, by listening for Your still, small voice, by patterning their lives after Jesus’ life, and by continuing to bear the fruit of Your Spirit.  We ask You to protect Jay and Kim from the focused attacks of Satan, and that You would enable them to both finish well, staying far from sin, and walking closely in obedience to Your Word. 

Gracious Spirit, we surrender Jay and Kim into Your hands, asking for supernatural guidance for this faithful pair. Wherever You may lead Jay and Kim, please continue to work through them for Your Kingdom purposes. May they be able to humbly and joyfully laugh at themselves, and to please You by steady obedience, in the same way that we have seen them consistently live for You while they were with us at Grace Point.  May the Buttons continue to be filled with your grace and truth, and to clearly display the gospel by their attitudes, actions, and words.

And we ask that in this day of celebration and farewells, …and in all the days for the rest of their lives, Jay and Kim may have rich and lasting joy in their journey with You!

We ask all of this, in the holy name of Jesus–AMEN

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

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.

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

Reflections on Black History Month

As Black History Month comes to a close, guest contributor, Joan Bennett, Leader of Grace Point’s Ethnic Awareness Team, shares some thoughts with us regarding a biblical response to Black History.


The month of February is designated as Black History Month and is a time when people (Christians and non-Christians) across the country reflect on the many ways in which people of African descent have affected, shaped and influenced our culture and our world. The contributions (small and large) of Africans/Black Americans have been numerous and varied, influencing all our literature, music, entertainment, sciences, medicine, politics, economy and church history. Without a doubt these great accomplishments are to be celebrated, given proper credit and respected.

Black History is woven into the history of our country. Black History is woven into the history of the Church. Black History is biblical history. Black History is all our history.

As Dr. King so famously said, “…all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

After all, God made us all the same. In Genesis 1:27 we read, “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” This truth is foundational. God created all human beings in His image. Gender, skin color and other physical differences do not change that reality.

In God’s eyes, all are equal. Acts 10:34-35 says, “God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right.”

God does not favor one person or group over another. He acknowledges the diversity of His creation, while showing grace equally. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to follow this example. Anything short of this, is a violation and disregard of God’s desire for His diverse creation.

“And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Acts 17:26

“Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me.” Song of Solomon 1:6

And so, this February, Black History Month, let us together reflect, remember, honor the black men and women who have affected, shaped and influenced our culture, our church, and our country.

~ Joan Bennett, Leader of Grace Point’s Ethnic Awareness Team

VBS 2020 Highlights!

Over the last three weeks, families have been enjoying FOCUS VBS – REFOCUSED with YOU in mind. Each week, families were provided with a gift box with activities, games, lessons and special items to guide them through VBS-at-Home. The gift boxes have served to encourage families in their faith and bring FUN into their homes in a new way.

We’ve heard that this unique approach to VBS has been extremely positive for families to learn together! We are grateful that we could serve our families in different and meaningful ways.

Here are a few things to celebrate and praise God for!

  • We had about 43 families participating representing about 84 children! 
  • We had 11 of those families were guests of Grace Point or new to our church. We welcome them and hope that VBS-at-Home has been a special first experience for them with us. 
  • Because of your generous donations, we have been able to bless families using half of our usual VBS budget and include more gifts than we could have previously. We praise God for your generosity making this possible. Thank you!

How you can continue to pray for VBS:

  • Pray that families would continue to be encouraged to have faith-centered conversations in their homes.
  • Pray that the seeds of faith that were planted would grow and that many kids would come to know and trust Jesus.
  • Pray that our guests might seek to know more about Grace Point so they can meet Jesus and be encouraged to grow in their faith!

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

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.