Monday, February 29, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 18


In a short treatise concerning prayer, Martin Luther taught the discipline of praying the Ten Commandments. Today, as a practice in devotion and discipleship, reflect upon and pray this prayer based on the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17):

Almighty and Everlasting God. You alone are God, there is no other. You have revealed yourself to us in many ways, through your creation, scripture and the prophets, and through your Son Jesus Christ.

You have also revealed yourself to us by name, so that we can call out to you in faith, hope, and love. Help us to always remember that you are with us.

Help us to keep the Sabbath, that we may gather in your name and give praise and thanks to you for all you have given us, our families, homes, and our health. Help us to share these gifts with all those in need.

We give thanks to you for our parents, our leaders, and all who are placed in authority by your hand. We ask that you provide them with wisdom and patience, and the ability to make sound decisions, governing according to your will.

Living God, we ask you to help us protect all life, being mindful not to harm others through our actions, or our words.

Bless us in our relationships, helping spouses to remain true to one another and live in the fullness of their love.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Lent 17


The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 17


“When life is all about me, I am blinded from the reality of my complete dependence upon my Creator. The noise of arrogance and anxiety deafens the call to lean on the everlasting arms. We are designed by God to be doubly dependent. First, directly upon God, and second, indirectly upon God through those people God brings into our lives. Our existence is to be one of interconnection, not isolation.” ~ Karen Sloan 

Let’s come to church today with grateful hearts. Grateful that we have a community of fellow followers to worship, grow, and fellowship with. And may our gratitude cause us to experience even more interconnectedness as we are used of God to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

Friday, February 26, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 16


Read Jeremiah 7:21-27

“Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people.”
What does this simple yet profound truth mean for you in this season of your life?

GRACE - Receiving It + Giving It

Hello Grace Church family + friends!

Each February, we spend some time reflecting on the mission + vision of our church. It's important for us to remember why we do we do and what we hope to accomplish together as we follow God's call for Grace Church.

This Sunday will be our concluding Sunday in the series and we will be focusing on the grace of God and the grace God's people should provide to others.

Grace is tricky. 

Grace is often misunderstood. 

Grace is underestimated. 

And our prideful resistance to grace can keep us blind and deaf to God's continual invitations into the life he has called us to live. 
Flannery O' Connor once wrote, "All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful." Let's not resist God's grace. Together, let's fall in to the grace freely given to us in the wonderful Gospel of Jesus!

So what is Grace? One simple way to understand is Grace is to think of it as favor or kindness. But it goes further than that. It is favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and in spite of what that person deserves. 

So grace essentially means gift. 

Due to our sinful (i.e., broken) condition, we desperately need the grace of God (Ephesians 2:1-10). Everything benevolent and lovely from God is due to this grace. It's all divine gift. 

So, in a fallen and broken world, grace essential. 

In a fallen and broken world, where we are both the victim and the perpetrator, grace is the only way we experience God; and showing grace to others in the best way to display God to the searching world around us. 

In a fallen and broken world full of fallen and broken people, grace may seem out of place, weak, and extremely difficult to give; but grace is always necessary. 

We, the body of Christ, the church, are the greatest recipients of God's grace; therefore, we should be great at giving grace to others. 

Join us this Sunday as we learn how to do this together!

Missed any Sundays in our A Church called Grace series? Here they are:
February 7th: Mission + Vision
February 14th: A Jesus Community
February 21st: A Serve + Renew Community
February 28th: A Grace Community (yet to be recorded)

Hope to see you Sunday morning at DHS. All are welcome. Invite a friend to join us!

Grace + Peace, 
P. Heath

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 15


“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Giving to others is a way in which we can participate in the life that Jesus’ death offers the world.

This weekend, give your “words” as a source of blessing to others. Write a brief handwritten note (or email or text) of encouragement to someone in your life.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 14


A prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

O God, early in the morning I cry to you. 
Help me to pray and to concentrate my thoughts on you; 
I cannot do this alone.   
In me there is darkness, but with you there is light; 
I am lonely, but you do not leave me.
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help.
I am restless, but with you there is peace. 
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience. 
I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me.   
Restore me to liberty, and enable me to live now that I may answer before you and before men. 
Lord, whatever this day may bring, your name be praised. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 13


A prayer to God the Holy Spirit by Augustine of Hippo: 
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.

Monday, February 22, 2016

2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 12


There are people with needs all around you. We don't have to go very far to find some need that we can actually do something about. 

Maybe it's the giving our time to talk with someone going through a difficult or confusing season. Maybe it's offering to help a friend or neighbor who needs a helping hand. Maybe it's to offer forgiveness to someone who you have been at odds with. Maybe it's helping the underprivileged in your community. There's opportunity to serve + renew all around us. 

May God give us eyes to see and courage to do.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 11


Consider Hebrews 12:1-3.

Following Jesus requires sacrifice and perseverance. What is the call to follow Christ asking of you today? How can we also use “the joy set before [us]” as a motivation to press on?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - 2nd Sunday


Charles Spurgeon once referred to the Church as the “dearest place on earth.” Come to church with a gratefulness for Christian community and attempt go out of your way to thank those who helped make it happen today - teachers, greeters, set-up people, musicians, leaders, nursery + children’s volunteers, etc.

The church, imperfect as it is, "is the dearest place on earth to us… All who have first given themselves to the Lord, should, as speedily as possible, also give themselves to the Lord’s people. How else is there to be a Church on the earth? If it is right for anyone to refrain from membership in the Church, it is right for everyone, and then the testimony for God would be lost to the world! The Church is the nursery for God’s weak children where they are nourished and grow strong. It is the fold for Christ’s sheep—the home for Christ’s family.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

Friday, February 19, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 10


Psalm 37:1-18

What does it mean to “delight yourself in the Lord?” Delight is a strong feeling of happiness, great pleasure, or satisfaction. How can the Lord become more of your source of delight? Meditate on this today.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 9


Is there someone you need to forgive? Consider Ephesians 4:32. Confess your sin of unforgiveness; and ask God to help you reach out to that person with the healing grace of forgiveness.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 8

We are a people of plenty. As we continue with our Lenten Activities, Lent calls for us to reconsider our regular consumption and lifestyle and it challenges us to give and/or give up certain things. As one Lent Devotional reads, “Lent…invites us to jump off the hamster wheel of consumption and experience the pinch of abstaining from thoughtless indulgence.” 

This week or weekend, choose to do something sacrificial for someone or for a ministry. Give away a little bit more money than you normally would. Put your schedule on hold and offer to give someone a hand. Take time out of your schedule to converse with someone who desires to connect with you. Spend some additional time in the Scriptures and in prayer.

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 7


Heavenly Father, 
Our Father in heaven, reveal who to me who you are and what you desire. As you set the world to rights through Jesus, our Messiah, may you also graciously set my own heart right. Do to me what is needed the most. Change me from the inside out. And give me the courage to release what you ask me to let go and to embrace what you tell me to pick up.

Lord, may it be.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 6


Romans 11:33-36
Meditate today on the wisdom of God. Think of the infinite number of ways God knows better than we do. Ask God to show you His wisdom in areas where you are choosing the folly of the world. Seek Him and allow to reveal to you what it would look like to more closely follow in the wisdom of His ways. Thank him for speaking to your heart and pray for the Holy Spirit to empower you to follow our wise Savior.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 5


A prayer for justice.

Heavenly Father, we praise you for being truly just and perfectly good in all you are and in all you do. Make us into a people that represent your justice and goodness. Forgive us for being more known by the things we are against rather then the things you are for. Change us into a people who pursue true justice and goodness within ourselves. And may what we are becoming internally spill out into the way we live. May your justice and goodness shape the handling of our resources. May it rearrange our priorities. May it teach us how we treat others. May it stabilize our emotions. May it keep our greed and selfishness at bay. And may it motivate us to live justly.

The Church must see justice as part of our discipleship. In other words, seek justice not just to change the world but to also be changed. ~ Eugene Cho

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - 1st Sunday


“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” (Psalm 133:1)

Come to church ready + eager to receive the taught Word of God in order to equipped "for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 3

Today, and this weekend, give something only you can give - YOU.

Give your attention to a family member or friend you have lost contact with. Call or text someone this weekend and offer your presence, encouragement, and love. Offer your time helping a church or local ministry.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 2

Joel 2:12-14
Lent is the Christian season that begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter/Resurrection Sunday. It is a time we intentionally journey with Jesus towards the cross and His death. During this 40-day journey, we’re invited to reflect, repent, and remember.

May God enable us to rend our hearts and repent by aligning ourselves more with Him + His ways.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lent 2016 - Lenten Activities + Prayers - Day 1

Almighty and everlasting Father, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Renew us and give us contrite hearts, that we, lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The What + Why About Lent

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. Followed by Fat Tuesday (Madi Gras), Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the annual Lenten Season. Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a special period of fasting, repentance, personal study, moderation, and spiritual discipline. Of course, these activities can be observed any time of the year, but the purpose of doing them during the 40 days of Lent is to set aside additional and particular time for reflection on Jesus Christ - his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection. 

The 40 days of Lent are to be marked by repentance. Ash is sometimes rubbed on the foreheads of Christians during Ash Wednesday services as a sign of repentance (e.g., 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21).
Now, if you can do the math, you may know there are actually 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter. This is due to Sunday's being excluded. Repentance is to mark the 40 days and celebration is to mark the Sundays leading up to Easter or Resurrection Sunday.
As with all liturgical season, Lent can be legalistically observed. There are no biblical warrants to observe it and it should be observed out of choice, not any sort of obligation.  Elliot Grudem articulates it well, "...any special attention to the Lenten Season that honors God must include heart-level repentance and real faith, not external obedience to church tradition. So the Lenten Season and its encouragement to take an extended time to focus on the death and resurrection of Christ provides us with an opportunity to honor God...There can be a real value in marking this season, but only if done with a heart that seeks to honor God."
Lent is a time when Christians can annually connect with their heritage and their fellow Christians around the world. It's a unique opportunity to live out the "oneness" expressed in Christ's prayer in John 17 as we, together, journey through Lent, asking ask-are there things here that we need to die to? Are there habits, thoughts, and patterns of living in our lives that aren't consistent with the life God intended us to live? 

At the same time, Lent should be a time for Christians everywhere to accept the life and grace that God extends to us-celebrating the cross and resurrection as God's definitive act of redemption in the world.
Grace Church and Lent 2016
Our church, Grace Church, is providing Lenten activities each day - GIVE, MEDITATE, or PRAY during the week and CELEBRATE for each of the Sundays lending up to Resurrection Sunday - on our church Facebook and Twitter Pages.

Plus, feel free to listen to a short podcast message by me about Lent and our Lenten Activities.
May this Lenten Season will be time growth, personal reflection, repentance, and resurrection for each one of us.

Grace + Peace,
P. Heath