October 2, 2016
Brian Worley, Executive Pastor
John 17:20-26

 

September 25, 2016
Chris Sasser, guest preacher
John 3:16-17

 

September 18, 2016
Randy Carter, guest preacher
John 21: 15-17

 

September 11, 2016
Clark Rinehart, Associate Pastor
The Greatest Commandment
Matthew 22: 34-40

Pre-Sermon Notes — From the Weekly Gracevine

Gracevine – September 29, 2016

“The Love Story”

In the age of Google, we have a list for everything: greatest movies, cars, people and kings; worst inventions or ideas; most hated “sport” players. Another list is that of “love story couples.”  This list includes: Pocahontas and John Smith of American legend; Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice; Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind; Odysseus and Penelope from Greek history; Paris and Helena from Homer’s Iliad; Lancelot and Guinevere of Arthur legend; and of course, Romeo and Juliet, probably the most famous of all couples. The love of a couple is passion, commitment, highs and lows, tragedy and triumph. It makes the greatest story.

The search for love and a significant relationship is a driving force in our world and our daily lives. Is there true love? Is there love at first sight? Is there only one love for me in my life? These are some of life’s great questions.

The story of scripture is the love story.  While the love of a couple drives books, movies and our imaginations, the scriptural relationship is different. It is often called “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

John the Apostle, the writer of the Gospel of John, the book of Revelation and three other smaller books by his name, uses a phrase six times in his gospel that causes the reader to wonder at its meaning — “the disciples whom Jesus loved” or “the beloved disciple” (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 21:20). What an amazing feeling to know the God of the universe would consider me “beloved.”

In John 17:20-26, Jesus expresses, in a prayer for each of us who believe, a very similar gift of love. Verse 23 expresses the love between the Father, the Son and us: “I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” This love is eternal in verse 24: “… you loved me before the creation of the world.” The purpose of Jesus’ time on earth was so that we know that we are loved by the God of all creation. As He says in verse 26: “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

We can search for love for a lifetime or we can surrender to the love of Jesus and know, “Jesus loves me this I know.” See you this Sunday [10/2/16] as we celebrate together, loving Jesus at the communion table.

Brian Worley, Executive Pastor

 

Gracevine – September 22, 2016

Love Is — Our Church

Over the last few weeks we have been unpacking what it looks like to love Jesus — the first part of our mission statement — in a preaching series called “Love Is.” We, as a community, believe that the Bible charges us to love God with everything that we have and love our neighbors as ourselves. We don’t do this because it makes us “good people.” Rather, we participate in this game-changing and transformational love out of an overflow of the deep love that we have received from God and now joyfully share with the world. This must be the overarching pattern of our lives day-in and day-out, not just on Sundays, because our lives are on mission!

Our church family is currently stepping up and starting to create this kind of love God and love neighbor culture even since we launched in August. In other words, we are already living out our mission statement even as we dream about the future and the ministry that God has in front of us. We have not simply waited to see what was going to happen or sat on the fence, even amid chaos. Instead, we have banded together and are starting to build a healthy, sustainable and faithful church that we trust will have lasting impact in our community (God willing!).

Here are a couple things that we can celebrate together:

  • 20 NEW FaithTown volunteers since August
  • 6 students were baptized through our Student Ministry
  • NEW small group leaders have been added to Student Ministry
  • 4 Bible Studies are up and running with new members
  • Roughly 100 people participated in Youth Group and our first MarriedPeople night last Sunday
  • New small groups have been formed (with more interest than we currently have groups!)
  • 19 people are going to Mexico for our October 2016 trip

So, if we’ve missed you, then we’d love to have you with us this Sunday morning [9/25/16] as Chris Sasser, our former Director of Family Ministries and beloved friend of Grace, preaches from John 3:16-17.

Bring a friend or family with you this Sunday and invite them to get connected in the life and mission of our church!

Grace & Peace,
Clark Rinehart, Associate Pastor

 

Gracevine – September 15, 2016

Sometimes I find it very easy to lose sight of the fact that we, as Christians, are part of a community whose mission is to have LASTING IMPACT. That is, the kind of grace-filled, inspiring, honest and true impact that resonates throughout families, neighborhoods, cities and continents from generation to generation and from everlasting to everlasting.

This is true, of course, for both Grace and the church universal. We (!!!) have the privilege of being a part of the unique and transformative God-inspired work that will have a legacy and influence that far outlives our lifetimes. This is ministry. It is hard to believe some days, but how incredible is that?!?! Surely this is proof, at least in part, that God loves us and desires to work through us in this world. We are God’s agents of change and our lives are on mission each day!

For whatever reason, God chose to use the church — you and me — to be actively engaged in this difficult yet redemptive and fulfilling work. God has gifted each of us and has positioned us for these very moments. This week I was reminded that when Jesus calls Simon (Peter) and his brother, Andrew, to follow Him in Matthew 4:19, Jesus says: “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” These fishermen are not called to follow Jesus and forget all of their skills and experience from their fishing days. Instead, Jesus leverages that expertise for just the right mission … leading and teaching people to follow Jesus as well. Peter and Andrew now focus their efforts on fishing for people, not fish (although I imagine they snuck off at times to drop a line in the water!).

Are you ready for the moment (maybe today? maybe even right after you read this email?) where you will be called upon to love your neighbor because of the love that you have received? I know that can be a bit intimidating-it is for me. But, I know that there will be a time in the coming days where God has you in just the right situation. because God is going to use YOU to be Jesus to someone else. Again, this is ministry…this is loving God and loving neighbor.

This Sunday morning [9/18/16] we will have the privilege of having Pastor Randy Carter with us as our Guest Preacher. He will continue with our preaching series called “Love Is” and will be unpacking John 21:15-17. I look forward to having him back with us and listening for what God has for us through the Word this week.

Grace & Peace,
Clark Rinehart, Associate Pastor

 

Gracevine — September 8, 2016

This Sunday [9/11/16] we will be kicking off a new preaching series called Love Is. My hope for this series is that it will begin to help each of us unpack what it means to fulfill the first part of our church’s mission statement: loving Jesus.

Perhaps there are some of you reading this that are wondering how you could ever be loved by Jesus or even love Jesus yourself? You know where you have been and it has not always been pretty. You also might have been hurt by words that were said toward you on behalf of God, by the church or by Christians … Please forgive me/us for the many times where we have not represented Jesus very well to you. If that’s the case for you, please reach out to me or someone you trust at Grace and we’d love to listen and process those things alongside of you because, at our very core, we believe that Jesus is in fact the greatest example of love that the world has ever seen.

Because God loved us first, we love abundantly.

As Christians, our lives should be marked by the love that we have received from God through Jesus. And, this only-from-Jesus love that we have received ought to overflow from us everyday at work, at school, at home, etc. But, in reality, we know that we don’t always love God with all that we are and oftentimes we fall short in loving our neighbor as well. Thank God for grace and second chances!

Even so, we are reminded of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees concerning the Greatest Commandment. He says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. I look forward to sharing some reflections on this passage — Matthew 22:34-40 — with you this weekend.

My prayer is that we would be a group of people who love God and our neighbor really well as we journey together as a community.

See you Sunday.
Grace & Peace,
Clark Rinehart, Associate Pastor