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Post Category: Pastoral Word

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Why We Sing

Music plays a vital part in the worship and body life here at Grace Church of the Valley. More than just singing the most popular Christian songs or the best catchy tunes out there, we seek to use music that helps people sing biblical truth and here’s why. We sing because we want to respond to who God is and what he has done. The best way to do that is to find son...

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How Does God Want Us to Think about Government?

Tuesday night brought a turbulent, disturbing, and ugly election season to an end. Besides the incredibly controversial presidential election, numerous local elections and state and federal propositions were also decided. Trump was a shocking winner, California legalized marijuana, Colorado legalized assisted suicide, and in it all God continues to rule supreme. As David P...

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Summerfest Servants

“I love to tell the story of unseen things above, Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love. I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true; It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do. I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory, To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love. ...

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Resurrection Life

From despair to hope, defeat to victory, death to life, Easter is celebration. The resurrection is so central to Christianity that without it there isn’t any Gospel to believe. With it, Christians are of all people most joyful and hopeful. But the resurrection isn’t just central to the Gospel, it’s also a key component of the glory of God. God, and God alone, gives l...

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Spanish Ministry

History The Spanish Ministry has more history than the two-and-a-half years Josie and I have been here. From the beginning, outreach to Hispanics in this valley has been an integral part of the plan. Our core purpose to exalt the Savior, equip the saints, and extend the Kingdom includes proclaiming the Gospel to all peoples around us. Spanish speakers make up the majori...

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Persecution Update: Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the last five nations with a Communist government and ranks #16 among the countries that persecute Christians. The minority Christian population numbers less than 10% of the population, and there have been increasing attacks on them. Christians have great difficulty in obtaining the mandated government registration for their churches. In addition, church ...

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Crazy Busy Book Review

True story. We scheduled this review of Kevin DeYoung’s book Crazy Busy: a (mercifully) short book about a (really) big problem several months ago. It’s just that some things came up, the schedule got rearranged, we had several other projects that were more important. Basically things just got a little crazy. And busy. In other words, I needed this book even more than ...

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Hume Lake 2015

Hume Lake 2015 by Pastor David Parents and campers, the time has come! If you’d like to attend Hume Camp this summer (June 7-13), now is the time to register. Camp can be a unique time of spiritual challenge and growth. It’s certainly a lot of fun and a great time and place for our kids to hang out together. More importantly, however, the concentrated amount of pre...

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Welcoming Pastor Blake Boys and Family

We are thrilled to welcome Blake Boys and his family to Grace Church of the Valley. Blake has just finished his first full week as a pastor here and we are excited to have him here and working. Blake will be giving the majority of his time overseeing our Sunday worship as he chooses songs, arranges the service order, shepherds the music and sound teams, leads rehearsals, d...

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On Building and Stewardship

On Building and Stewardship by Pastor David To conclude our previous week’s word on the building, we are convinced that God has uniquely blessed us. Not only has He blessed us with financial resources, but also with people. The Lord builds His church, not us, and our task is to steward well the number of people God has brought and we think will bring. We want to ef...

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Fundamentals

As Pastor Scott began the book of Jonah last week, one of the issues he covered was the debate about Jonah being a literal, historical book. That topic made me think of how essential our fundamental, basic convictions about the Bible are. One of God’s blessings through kids is the reminder of how much we assume. For instance, before our kids were born I was under th...

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On Building and Stewardship

We are on the brink of some really exciting developments when it comes to more permanent facilities for our church family. Depending on the finances the Lord provides by January, we have the potential of beginning some construction in April or so. As we’ve considered the importance of the next few months, we’ve also returned to why we think this facility is a...

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The Work of the Ministry

Seven years ago Grace Church officially began. For seven years, God has been graciously growing and shaping us. God uses means like His Word, prayer, and fellowship to grow us, and so while we ought to be grateful for the past we ought also to look to the future for faithful ministry and growth. Below is a list of ministries that you can grow in as we enter a new ministry ...

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9:00 Sunday Morning and You

September is just right around the corner! Because of our church’s anniversary, as well as summer vacations ending and school beginning, we often restart ministries in September that we took a brief break from. Our Adult Bible Fellowship and Sunday school hour is one of those ministries that we resume in earnest. I’d like to encourage you to make the 9:00 hou...

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This Week in Religious History

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3 ESV) ...

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A Season for Everything

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2) ...

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Free Indeed

This week, we who are Americans celebrate Independence Day. God has been kind to give us our religious freedom and our history in a democracy that prizes individual liberty. It’s a blessing to be in a nation where we enjoy such freedom as Christians. Historically speaking, it’s also quite rare....

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S'mores, kids, and the glory of God

What do you get when you match classic graham crackers, a perfectly toasted marshmallow, and a slightly melted Hershey’s bar? S’mores make any campfire worth having. You might as well have a car without an engine than camp without smores. This summer, camping and Kidsfest are coming together in a fun theme with a purpose. We’re going to encourage our k...

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Doulos

“Doulos” is the Greek word for slave. It’s also the name of our summer internship program. Far from being a dismissive term, “doulos” represents the heart of Christian leadership. Jesus’ disciples had the same worldly, upside-down perspective of leadership that we are prone to ourselves. They argued which of them would be the greatest,...

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This week in church history

For good or ill, the past has changed our present. Whether we know it or not, the past has brought us to where we are today. And through it all, God has been in Heaven, doing whatever He pleases. June 22 1559 In England, Queen Elizabeth's Prayer Book was issued. During her 45-year reign, Elizabeth I rejected the Catholic faith, adopting instead the Thirty-Nine Art...

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Kidsfest 2014

Believe it or not, summer is right around the corner! Our summers bring us delicious fruit, time off from school, plenty of swimming opportunities, and more. But a rapidly growing summer favorite is our Summerfest. Both within our church family and without, Summerfest provided us with great chances to fellowship, play together, and enjoy solid teaching. This summer we ar...

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This Week in Religious History

For good or ill, the past has changed our present. Whether we know it or not, the past has brought us to where we are today. And through it all, God has been in Heaven, doing whatever He pleases. May 5 1925 High school biology teacher John T. Scopes, 24, was arrested for teaching the theory of evolution in his Dayton, Tennessee classroom. ...

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Kidsfest

John 17:3. “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Knowing God, and Jesus Christ whom God sent, lies at the heart of our children’s greatest need. Knowing God truly is a matter of eternal life or death, and so we are excited to be moving towards Kidsfest 2014. The focus of our time will be th...

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Resurrection Reactions

Resurrection. It’s a startling word, a thrilling concept, and a spiritual keystone. It’s an essential for Christianity, a target for skeptics, and a theme for mythology and religions alike. This week gives us as a church another chance to focus uniquely on our central belief that Jesus rose from the dead. But within our church and without, reactions to this g...

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Adopting Joel

We call him baby Joel in our house. Baby Joel is the name for the boy we long to adopt. He may or may not even be born yet, but we’ve been praying and working to bring him home for a long time now. Cathy and I talked about adoption before we were even married, and adoption was one of the dreams we shared. At that point, it was little more than a mutual desire to ado...

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The Valley of Vision: "The name of Jesus"

Thou readest the heart, viewest principles and motives of actions, seest more defilement in my duties than I ever saw in any of my sins. The heavens are not clean in thy sight, and thou chargest the angels with folly; I am ready to flee from myself because of my abominations; ...

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Adoption Fund

James 1:27 directly commends care for widows and orphans as the prototypical examples of true religion. Adoption goes beyond orphan care, as important as that is, to providing a lasting family that children so desperately need. God has designed the family, and He also uses adoption as an object lesson for what it means to become a Christian. Because of these principles, we...

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This Week in Religious History

March 23 1744 In London, composer George Frederic Handel's famous oratorio "Messiah" was performed for the first time. 1877 Mormon fanatic John Doyle Lee was executed by a firing squad for masterminding the Mountain Meadows Massacre. In 1857, a wagon train of 127 Arkansas Methodist emigrants, bound for California, were killed by a party of Mormon settlers and P...

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Bright Hope

“I hope it rains today.” “I hope I do well on this test.” “We’re hoping the results come back negative.” From the trivial to the most profound longings, hope colors every facet of all of our lives. Whether you think about it or not, hope is an attitude that anchors much of your life. When you lose hope you lose your grip on life. ...

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Bright Hope for Tomorrow, part 2

Do you get disappointed? A lot? Does it seem like no one, from your spouse to the electrician, can keep a promise to you? That no matter how much you lower your expectations, life can still do the limbo even lower? You’re in good company if your hopes are constantly being dashed. Along with the rest of humanity, you are experiencing the inevitable result of livi...

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Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead As we move into February, here are some reminders of ministry events for you to take part in, be blessed by, and be a blessing at. Sunday morning is not our only chance to learn together, encourage each other, and do the work of the ministry. Far from just making busy calendars busier, we pray these ministry opportunities help us pursue our goal of glorify...

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Book Review: Gospel-Centered Family

There is no shortage of books on parenting. Additionally, you can find “Gospel centered” anything on the Christian book market. Neither of those realities should keep you from reading Ed Moll and Tim Chester’s Gospel-Centered Family. I highly recommend this book because it is readable, practical, and most importantly driven by biblical principle....

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Give Thanks to the Lord

As another Thanksgiving season has come and gone, I’ve asked myself again about the state of my thankfulness. Thankfulness is not a calendared activity, but every Thanksgiving is a valid opportunity to reflect on the condition of my soul. A Gospel-saturated heart necessarily leads to a thankful heart. When the Word of God dwells in us richly, we inevitably give than...

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The Gospel and Church Growth

With all the strategies for church growth swirling around in our world, Charles Spurgeon helps us see clearly both what truth church growth is and how it happens....

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Sing Praise

Joining Grace of the Valley Church on November 17, 2013 was an Amazing God Day. ...

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The Gospel-a knock on Rome and a promise to Israel

“The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” â€" Mark 1:1 Two thousand years after this was written, Christians confidently proclaim that there is no gospel without Jesus Christ. However, to those reading it for the first time â€" this was a bold proclamation for a lowly carpenter to fulfill. To the Roman or Gentile audience the Gospel...

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Next Year in Jerusalem

The following article comes from Jon Bloom of Desiring God (http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/when-the-perfect-comes). Though this is an older post, I come back to it at the turn of the year because of it’s mixture of hope and honesty. “…when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away” (1 Corinthians 13:10)....

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Spanish Ministry Couples Retreat Update

Earlier this month, the Spanish ministry held a couples’ retreat in the mountains. The majority of those who attended were the men who have been involved in weekly Bible studies conducted in the local fields and farm shops. We met most of the wives for the first time at the retreat. It was the men who encouraged their wives to attend and made the effort to be a part...

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The Gospel and Church Growth

With all the strategies for church growth swirling around in our world, Charles Spurgeon helps us see clearly both what truth church growth is and how it happens. “Are you afraid that preaching the gospel will not win souls? Are you despondent as to success in God’s way? Is this why you pine for clever oratory? Is this why you must have music, and architect...

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How to pray for Kids

Prayer. It’s one of our ten ministry commitments. It’s the expression of our dependence on God, the privilege of our adoption as sons and daughters, the bold access we have to God’s throne, the power ordinary people have to move God’s mighty hand, the worry killer, and the unceasing activity of the obedient Christian. Yet for something so essent...

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E412 Equipping Meetings

Ephesians 4:11 and 12 tell us, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” In God’s wisdom, He planned for His leaders in the church to be equippers and for every saint to do the work of the ministry. Far from a recent development ...

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Gospel Relationships

Have you ever heard someone else (or yourself) saying something along these lines: “I just don’t click with that person. We don’t gel well. He just has a personality I don’t like. She’s sort of annoying. We’re so different. We just don’t have anything in common.” Reality is that we don’t get along easily with...

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Answering the Accuser

Of Satan’s many descriptions, one of the most personally chilling is “the accuser of our brothers.” Revelation 12:8 tells of a coming day that he will be thrown down from Heaven, forced to stop his day and night accusations. John clearly states that Satan does his accusing “before our God.” Because this day is still future, the biblical reali...

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Prayer for Revival

Prayer for Revival “What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?” Ps 89:48 You may have heard the report about the four Soccer Camps we recently conducted. Reporting on Sunday morning requires brevity so you mostly heard facts about what it took to get thirty two people to conduct sixty hours of Soccer Camp in f...

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On Christ: Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards has been described as one of the greatest minds in America ever, and certainly one of its greatest theologians. Edwards thought and taught deeply about Jesus Christ and experiencing the greatest delight in knowing Him. In the quote below, Edwards walks us through possible objections to trusting Christ and shows us how great Jesus is....

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Let Scripture Direct and Define Our Pleasures

Imagine going to a used car salesman looking for a car. His eyes light up and he takes you to a certain one. “This is it,” he proclaims. “This is the perfect car for you.” “Is it a good car,” you ask. He assures you it’s in great shape. Two weeks later you are stranded on the side of the highway. Your mechanic tells you the ...

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The Decisions of the Supreme Court

If you want to see what a judicial roller coaster looks like, all you’d have to do is look at the Supreme Court of the United States. Decisions have been made and then reversed, made with good outcomes for the defense of morality, and made with disastrous repercussions on biblical principles. This week marked another one of those twists and turns, but it’s im...

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Let me get that speck of pride for you...

“There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. The vice I am talking of is Pride. . . . ...

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Hearing James

The book of James is right around the corner for us as a church family. Full of almost proverbial wisdom, James hits us close to home on a variety of practical issues. Before we get to it, though, I thought it would be good to consider what James 1:19-25 should teach us about how we hear this next sermon series. We do a lot of listening. It’s an integral part of our...

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Hearing James, part 2

I hate being tricked. Telemarketers using the guise of “surveys” doubly annoy me, magic tricks make my brain hurt, and scam artists make my blood boil. Unfortunately, my heart is the best deceiver I know. When it comes to hearing, I’m concerned that I share a weakness to deception with all the rest of you. I can hear, and hear, and hear, and still not do...

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The Hurley Ministry

Founded in 2002, Sufficiency of Scripture Ministries (SOS) is a Christian non-profit organization which seeks to provide humanitarian aid and biblical training to all those in need. Shannon Hurley, one of our missionaries and the founder of SOS, began the ministry after seeing the overwhelming physical and spiritual needs of the Ugandan people. These needs primarily are a ...

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Hurley Visit

We are privileged to host Shannon and Danielle Hurley from May 21-26, and we are so excited for the mutual impact this week can have. We have three goals we hope will be accomplished during their stay: 1. Develop a deeper and stronger relationship with the Hurleys, 2. Encourage the Hurleys in the work of the ministry, and 3. Motivate our church to pray, give, and go for gl...

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May's Event Schedule at GCV

This Month at Grace 5: Spanish Sunday Service Begins Pray for the Spanish Ministry as Tom begins teaching through Colossians during the ABF hour. This is an important study of the Sufficiency of Christ. It will be completed in early September, just in time for the inaugural Spanish Service on September 15. ...

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Update from the Graumans

The cover article of Time Magazine for April 15th, together with the article entitled “The rise of the evangelicos” detail the most rapidly growing religious group of Spanish speakers: not Catholic, not secular, but latin ‘evangelicals’. The two articles describe the trend of latins turning from ritualistic Catholicism and diving into a deep, intim...

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The Bible, Boston, and Bombs

Some news is so shocking and grievous that it seems there isn’t anything to say. Yet lots has been said already about the bombings in Boston. Reporters, analysts, politicians, and more have weighed in, sometimes prematurely, sometimes unhelpfully, and sometimes usefully. But what can we say from the Bible? Colin Adams helps us with these seven truths....

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Persecution Update: Libya

Persecution Update: Libya...

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A Spike-torn Hand Twitched

The following quote is an excerpt from Russell Moore’s excellent book Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011). The ugliness of the crucifixion only magnifies the glory of the resurrection....

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On Popes and Protestants (Part 2)

Last week I wrote an overview of the importance of the recent election of Pope Francis and tried to explain the theological reasons behind the attention. I’d like to turn our attention to an evaluation of these recent events, all the while trying to remind us of both grace and truth....

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On Popes and Protestants (Part 1)

I’d like to share a pastoral word for us as a church family. Given the publicity and coverage even on the world news level, I think it’s important to ask ourselves how the Bible informs our look at the world. It certainly teaches us to be marked by grace and truth, being neither ungracious nor untruthful, a commitment I hope you’ll sense even as you re...

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Why God Doesn't Prioritize Our Comfort

Knowing God is in my top five favorite books outside of the Bible. J. I. Packer masterfully combines a deep knowledge of God with the inescapable practical applications that knowing God should lead to. He’s scholarly and clear, deep and devotional. Knowing God will give your brain a workout and your heart passion all at the same time. Consider this section from his ...

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Who Am I? (Part 2)

Last week we began considering who we are according to God. We are not our own, and we are alive even though we used to be dead. Here are a several more Gospel-informed realities that frame the core of our identity....

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Who Am I? (Part 1)

“Who am I?” From Bible characters like Moses to Greek philosophers to a slew of people in “mid-life crisis,” humans have asked this question in a variety of forms. Today from the earliest ages our children are told to be true to themselves, whatever that means and assuming they have that capacity. Countless numbers of labels vie to stamp themselves ...

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Learning from 12 year old Jesus

Have you ever had one of those intense, possibly even heated doctrinal discussions that led to a massively strained relationship with a friend? Ever had a healthy discussion with a fellow-Christian where you peacefully but forcefully disagreed on your interpretation of a passage, and in the end neither of you changed your minds? Maybe seeing a doctrinal discussion dissolve...

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Praying with the Puritans

The Valley of Vision is a treasure of Puritan prayers. Reading it has helped instruct me on how to pray, reminded me that God’s Word should inform the words of my prayers, and reprimanded me for praying small and weightless prayers. I highly recommend getting the book and even using it during your regular devotional times, and I think your soul will benefit from rea...

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“A Corrosive Culture?”

I haven’t sat down to write the epitaph for my gravestone, but one word I would hope to be on it would be “churchman.” Few qualities resonate as deeply with me as those that would mark a man as belonging to the church, of loving her and growing in her and giving his life for her. So any time I read of others prizing the local church I’m immediatel...

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Another Step Closer

The following article comes from Jon Bloom of Desiring God (http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/when-the-perfect-comes) As I both look back into last year and forward into this one, I found these words encouraging and full of hope....

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The Gospel and Church Growth

Healthy churches are growing churches. The desire for a church to grow is a normal, noble intention. For instance, Jesus said He would build His church (Matt. 16:18), the apostles preached and prayed hard as the church began, and Paul instructed the Thessalonians to pray that the word of the Lord would spread rapidly (2 Thess. 3:1). Regrettably, we do not always define â...

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Seeing Grace in Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Of all our American national holidays, none has been as devalued in my Christian experience as tomorrow’s. ...

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The Good News for My Resentment

Dane Ortland is one of those men well-skilled at applying the Gospel to all of life, of doing what Mike Bullmore calls “living in the good of the Gospel.” Ortland’s writing consistently and effectively draws my heart to the Gospel for life, so I wanted to share some wise, Gospel words from him regarding resentment. You can check out his blog at http://do...

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The Gospel for Resentment, part 2

This is part 2 of last week’s pastoral word on resentment. Dane Ortland turns us from understanding how resentment works to how we defeat it. This same Gospel approach can be applied to all of our sinful temptations, so let’s revel and grow in our ability to live in the good of the Gospel. “How then do we conquer bitterness? By soaking in two realiti...

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When I'm Struggling to Pray

In light of a certain prominent celebration at the end of October, I thought it would be fitting to hear from the man often credited for beginning the Protestant Reformation. Oh, you thought I meant a different, more ghoulish celebration? October 31st marked the 495th anniversary of Martin Luther pounding his 95 Theses onto the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germ...

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Gospel Meditations for Voters

The good folks at Church Works Media have helped us yet again with another Gospel Mediation. This one is geared specifically for voters and this week. Election Day is upon us. I hope you will vote. (I already did, taking my wife on a coffee-and-ballots date last week.) It’s proper for Christian citizens to exercise the rights of citizenship (as Paul in did in Act...

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New City Catechism

What is our only hope in life and death? That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ. So opens the first question and answer of a new catechism developed in large part by Tim Keller. If you’re familiar with the Hiedelberg Catechism, this answer will sound familiar to you. In fact, this modern cat...

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Idolizing Comfort

I like to be comfortable. Don’t you? From the coolness of our air conditioned houses to the pursuit of a trouble-free life, we like comfort. While we’re never told to make life as hard as it can be on ourselves, and while comfort can be a great grace from God, our love for comfort can easily turn idolatrous. A simple way to find out if we worship comfort is t...

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Thailand Thanks

A note from Phillip Reyes, thanking Grace Church of the Valley for the prayer and financial support received for his short-term missions trip to Thailand....

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God's Grand Gospel Plans

Sometimes I think too small. Sometimes in the rightness of “stick-to-it-tiveness“, of “wherever you are, be all there,” of “keep your heart where your body is,” I can lose sight of the grandness of God’s Gospel plans. We need to pour our energies into the mission field right around us. But there’s a whole forest of Godâ€...

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On the Value of Identifying with the Lamb over an Elephant or Donkey

It’s here. It’s that time, every four years or so, when politics and parties and choice and a better country and red and blue are headlined on every newspaper, magazine, and TV set. And it’s times like these that I feel some of the greatest tension between being an American and being a Christian. I am grateful to be an American. I count it as the grace...

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More than Teaching (Part 2)

Recently one of our sons shared a joke with me. The funny part was that it was one my father frequently told me as a boy. After the laughter, the reality hit him, “I am becoming my father!” Later on another reality hit me, “Disciples are like their teachers.”...

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On the Value of Identifying with the Lamb over an Elephant or Donkey

It’s here. It’s that time, every four years or so, when politics and parties and choice and a better country and red and blue are headlined on every newspaper, magazine, and TV set. And it’s times like these that I feel some of the greatest tension between being an American and being a Christian. I am grateful to be an American. I count it as the grace...

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More Than Stories

So Josie and I had cause to reflect this week. We have been here one month. Here means two hundred miles north of the forty mile radius we have lived our entire lives (with the exception of Josie’s first four in Mexico). One month is thirty days of the the thirty years of marriage we celebrated this week. Thirty years is five grown children and four grand children l...

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"That We May No Longer Be Children"

As we head into the fall, I’m thrilled with what God is giving us the opportunity to do in our student ministries. We will be “launching” leadership teams in Jr. High, Sr. High, and College/Career starting in September. Student Ministry is not an end in itself though, we have a goal or mission we are seeking to accomplish. As we minister to our young peo...

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Old Testament Narratives

I’m always on the lookout for good Old Testament resources. It seems that no matter how hard I work at it, the most challenging, perplexing, and disturbingly distant parts of the Bible are in the Old Testament. I know the whole, entire Bible is breathed out by God and profitable. (the New Testament says so). Getting to the profit, however, is frequently challenging....

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Summer BBQ and Baptism

I'm eagerly anticipating our annual BBQ and Baptism, which is just about a month away now. Each year, it's been such a delight to be together, eat some great food, and celebrate baptisms together. This is also a golden opportunity to serve our church family, and we certainly need your help! Below is a list of the service opportunities, so if you could look over the list an...

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Wise Counsel (Part 2)

Newton continued his encouragement to Ryland, pointing him to trust in God and not Ryland's emotions or perceptions of God's blessings. Ryland would swing from despair that he was failing spiritually to concern that he wasn't being tested enough. Newton deals with both these extremes....

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Wise Counsel (Part 1)

Although he's better known for writing Amazing Grace, John Newton was also a faithful pastor who excelled at another kind of writing. Newton wrote countless numbers of letters, some to members of his congregation, some to friends, some to the newspapers as editorials, and some to other pastors. Newton's letters to one pastor in particular, John Ryland Jr., have been gather...

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Service Opportunities

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." I Peter 4:10-11...

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Free to Love

Does grace lead to unrestrained sin? Does freedom from the Mosaic Law mean freedom from any kind of obedience? The apostle Paul faced these kinds of questions recurringly, and the consistency and clarity of his answers ought to make the answer plain to us. "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!" "What then? Are we to sin beca...

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Oh Freedom

"Oh freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom over me And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in my grave And go home to my Lord and be free"...

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Great Commission Spotlight: Staniscis

Throughout the book of Philippians, Paul celebrates the unique Gospel partnership he shared with the Philippian church. Paul opens the books by explaining that even his prayers were marked with thankfulness and joy because of their partnership in the Gospel. And in the closing of his book, Paul again praises the Philippians for being the only church who partnered with him,...

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With Thanks

Last week brought an end to some of our children's ministries' busiest weeks of the year. Among Vacation Bible School, Camp 7 Oaks for 4th-6th graders, and then Camp 7 Oaks for Junior High, you as a church poured out an incalculable amount of time, energy, prayer, and effort. Thank you seems pretty inadequate considering how much effort these last weeks have taken, but tha...

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Time (no, not the magazine, the clock kind)

Time. It can crawl by and drag on, it can run and it can race. Time flies and we run out of it, but we all have the same amount to work with. Time can disappear like a lady in a magic act and be wasted like a gambler's dollar. We never get to relive the past and we never arrive at the future. So how should we think about the present? Especially as we race into our summer s...

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Ministry Focus: Upcoming Sundays

As a pastoral team, we're excited to have Jim Berg as a guest speaker next Sunday, June 3. Jim is a gifted speaker, writer, and counsellor. He also happens to be Angie McMorris's dad. He's written two excellent books on sanctification, Changed Into His Image and Created for His Glory. I've personally been blessed by Changed into His Image, having read it multiple times, an...

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Back to Judges 19-21

Here's one final suggestion for understanding the purpose of Judges 19-21: ask the Holy Spirit what we're supposed to apply from this story. In the two previous pastoral words on this passage, I suggested that we first look for clues in the text and context, then ask "how does this fit into the story of redemption"? A final clue to any passages' purpose, however, is to ask...

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Ministering on Mother's Day

"Peanut butter." What comes into your mind when you hear those two words, "peanut butter"? Me, I think of how I like to eat Reese's two at a time. Or maybe one of my favorite ice creams ever, Moose Tracks. Say those two words to Silas, however, and he'll react much differently. He'll say "yuck," or make a spitting noise or, on a polite day, simply inform you that he's alle...

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Judges 19-21, part 2

Last week, we began to answer the question "What is Judges 19-21 in the Bible for?" My first suggestion was to look for clues in the context and text. Repeated phrases, recurring themes, and obvious similarities in the stories have already pointed us to the absence of a king and the utter spiritual bankruptcy of the nation of Israel....

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My kids are here, but are they hearing?

Regardless of what age you choose to have your kids hear adult preaching, I'm sure every faithful parent wants their kids to get the most out of preaching. Joe Holland, pastor and church planter, gives 8 tips for talking to your kids about the sermon afterwards. Here are the first three: ...

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They're here, but are they hearing, part 2

In part 2 of last week's word, Joe Holland moves on to both practical and Gospel-centered advice. "Engage your kids with open ended questions. You know the outline and you can keep to the main point. You know youʼre going to talk a ton about Jesus. Now engage your kids with any kind of question you can think of... except ones that can be answered, "yes" or "no". ...

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God's Glory in Life

From despair to hope, defeat to victory, death to life, Easter is celebration. The resurrection is so central to Christianity that without it there isn't any Gospel to believe. With it, Christians are of all people most joyful and hopeful. But the resurrection isn't just central to the Gospel, it's also a key component of the glory of God. God, and God alone, gives life. H...

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VBS & Camp 7 Oaks 2012

They are coming! In just two and a half short months, VBS and Camp 7 Oaks will be back in full swing. VBS and Camp give us unique and dynamic opportunities to make young disciples. From presenting the Gospel to teaching Christlikeness, these two special summer opportunities seize our summertime flexibility to fulfill the Great Commission. Our VBS and Camp 7 Oaks are ...

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The Most Precious Work of the Holy Spirit

"If you could lose your salvation, you would already have lost it." This was how John MacArthur began his sermon on Romans 8:26-33 at this years Shepherd's Conference. His contention was that the work of preserving us is a work that only God can do. As such, if we were in any way responsible for "keeping" our salvation we would fail. The work of keeping us is primarily the...

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Life Is War

I've watched a couple of military-themed movies recently and have found my thoughts occasionally occupied with "war themes." What would it be like to be a soldier? What would the training be like? What would combat be like? Could I hack something like the Navy Seals? ...

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On Legalism, Part 2

Legalism--there's at least a little bit in all of us, and it's bad for us. For a previous pastoral word we looked at Erik Raymond's article on legalism that pointed out that legalism promotes unbiblical standards (self-authority) and performance (self-righteousness.) In the second part, Erik focuses on the divisive nature of legalism. ...

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Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga

Currently we have a total of five volunteers from our church who are active volunteers. Peter Thomas, Ben Friesen, Mark Edwards, Mary Ann, and I have all ministered at the prison over the past several months. We minister on two separate yards (prison facilities) at the prison. On Delta yard we lead services every other Friday night. On Alpha yard we lead a study on the thi...

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Legalism

"What is Legalism? In its most basic sense legalism believes that we can earn or keep God's favor by what we do. 1. Legalism Promotes unbiblical standards (self-authority) Legalism may take things that have been biblically true but not biblically applicable and attempt to make them binding. ...

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Give thanks in what we say and in what we write

It does not take much for people to express their displeasure in life. Ask the average person "How are you doing?" and frequently, a list of circumstances that are less than ideal are enumerated. Go on Facebook and scroll through your friends' and families' most recent status updates. While you will find descriptions of the mundane or excitement for different events, un...

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I Wanna Go Back to Egypt

As I recently read the story of God's delivering the Children of Israel (COI) from the Egyptians, I was struck with how similar our circumstances often are. The COI had it rough in Egypt. They were slaves to people who didn't love them or know their God. They were forced into breaking their backs so that the Egyptians didn't have to. The monuments they were building were ...

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Closely Clinging Sin: Complaining

Sin clings to us. And worse than that, it clings closely, even to believers. Shannon served us well last week by provoking us to run, and I'd like to consider just one of those sins we must lay aside. Complaining clings closely to us, and I wonder if one of the reasons is that we don't recognize and treat it as the woeful sin it is. It is all too easy to utter a critical...

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God Is Powerful (Part 2)

God's "weakness" is greater than all the power humans can muster. And God's power is available to us. We can stand against Satan, and sin, and temptation with God's power. We can endure persecution and loss in God's power. We can and will overcome sin fully through God's power. Several pastoral words ago we considered that God is powerful in creation and in the exodus. Let...

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"...Abide In My Word..."

When you read this it will be January 1st. I'm not a fan of "new year's resolutions" but every year at the beginning of the year I consider changing Bible reading plans. Some years I have done better than others, some have a been a failure to keep on track. But as for choices, this year it's a cornucopia. Nate Bingham on ligonier.org has posted a comprehensive set of Bible...

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Christmas Time, the Second Coming of Christ and Personal Holiness

It can be challenging to find deep meaning in Christmastime celebrations when surrounded by many non-religious cultural expressions of Christmas and a busy schedule. The deep theological truths that are represented at the coming of Christ can be minimized. For example, I say things like "God became man" without thinking much of it; in reality, the incarnation is remarkable...

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JOY AND PEACE

"Mommy, are you happy?" my daughter asked me this as I was putting her to bed the other night. If I were to ask you "Are you happy?" my guess is that most of us would say, "Yes." Yet, we live stressed out, overwhelmed, and burdened. Our verbal assent doesn't match with our attitudes, complaints, facial expressions, and our heart rate!...

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This Christmas Season

With Christmas quickly approaching and with all the plans for the holidays, I would like to encourage you to put one thing at the top of your list: share the gospel with someone....

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God All-Sufficient

On this day that we traditionally give thanks, let us remember the creator of the universe and give thanks to Him who upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:3)....

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Praying in our Transition

Desperate Christian people pray. In light of our pursuit of another pastor for preaching, I thought I’d share some very practical prayer suggestions from a book that I’ve been reading lately called When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search: ...

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Christ Crucified

Is it possible to be too Gospel-centered? To make too much of Christ crucified? Paul’s concern for the Corinthians certainly seems to say you can’t. His desire was to know nothing else among them, and for them to fixate on Christ crucified....

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Thank God

One of my favorite times of the year is at hand: Thanksgiving. It is a time to turn our hearts to God for all of the blessings He has given us. In fact, every good gift and every perfect gift is from Him (James 1.17). God has blessed us in that every physical need has been met (Matthew 7.9-11). More importantly, we have been blessed with everything that we need spiri...

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Non-negotiable Purpose Statement

Purpose statements are extremely helpful for businesses, teams, ministries, etc. They not only help us know why the organization exists, but they help that organization stay on task. All great businesses have a clear purpose statement. People have purpose statements, too. What’s yours? If I asked you, “What’s the purpose of your existence?â...

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"If we say..."

The book of 1 John begins right out of the gate by focusing on Christ and making the proclamation of what John and the other apostles heard, saw, and touched (our Savior). John's desire--by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit--was for us to have fellowship with God and one another, made possible by cross. ...

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Means of Grace: Spiritual Benefits to Giving

In my previous pastoral words, we’ve considered giving as a means of grace. God’s Word dictates the manner in which we should give; we ought to give sacrificially, cheerfully, purposefully, and regularly. However, God’s law does not leave us without motivation. Giving is a means of grace, in that, if we give properly, then God will use that action to g...

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Special Member Word from the Bartels

Dick and Irene have graciously agreed to share this with our entire church family, so I pray you are encouraged again through them and able to serve them better. David...

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The Promised Land

John MacDuff, "The Promised Land!" 1859 "And He led them forth by the right way--that they might go to a city of habitation." Psalm 107:5 God's thoughts are not as our thoughts--neither are His ways as our ways! This truth is strikingly exemplified in the manner in which He led the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land....

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Reflect on the Gospel and Be Motivated

David Platt, in his book Radical, takes the above passage and pieces together the steps to salvation beginning in verse 15 and moving backwards in the passage. Those who preach are sent; those who hear do so from someone who preaches; those who believe do so from hearing; those who believe call on Him in whom they believe....

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Raising Idolaters: Run to the Gospel

If it weren’t for the Gospel, raising idolaters would be inevitable. Christian parents would be mired in despair, unable to shake the burden of watching their precious children race toward false worship. Knowing that we are born running away from worshipping the one true God, knowing that only a heart change can rescue our children, knowing that in our weakness we o...

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Means of Grace: Giving Sacrificially and Cheerfully

The Bible has much to say about how we view money, possessions and giving. I would like to focus on the last category: giving. The Bible not only commands us to give but also dictates the manner in which we give....

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Sword of the Spirit

The sword is the final piece to the armor of God that Paul, in Ephesians, instructs us to take up. Although the sword can be used defensively in combat, it is the only offensive weapon given in the list. Paul says, “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”. Notice that we must take the sword. Merely recognizing...

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Desperate for God

When you were saved, you heard the gospel call, He regenerated you, and you responded in faith and repentance. At some point between regeneration and response you became desperate, you knew you were a sinner and had nothing to offer a perfect God. You had an urgent need to be saved. You became poor in spirit (a result of His work in you) and our gracious God saved you....

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Raising Idolaters: Pay Close Attention to Yourself

God despises worship given to anyone except Himself. He cannot stand it. Yet our children, like us, default to false worship. In an effort to promote true worship, let’s consider the flip-side. What does it take to raise idolaters?...

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Answering the Accuser

Of Satan’s many descriptions, one of the most chilling is “the accuser of our brothers.” Revelation 12:8 tells of a coming day that he will be thrown down from heaven, forced to stop his day-and-night accusations. John clearly states that Satan does his accusing “before our God.” Assuming this day is still future, the biblical reality seems t...

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The Gospel and Worship

In our weekly men’s Bible study (Tuesdays, 6 am @ 2401 Ave. 396, Kingsburg), we have been examining the content and implications of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. In the opening lines of the letter, Paul comes again and again to a powerful gospel theme for our daily lives in Christ. From God’s sovereign election in eternity past, to His regenera...

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Why Talk About Sin?

We often find it uncomfortable to talk about sin, particularly our own. Our flesh steers us to talk about other people’s sin but avoid scriptural applications that divulge or convict us of our own sin. It is essential that we have an awareness and understanding of our own sin and the sinful nature of the world in order to fully appreciate what God has done. Below ar...

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Raising Idolaters: Know The Danger

It takes no effort as a parent to teach children to worship. Children are born worshippers. It takes a great deal of grace effort, however, to raise children to be worshippers of the one true God. John Calvin is credited with saying, “The human heart is a factory of idols…Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.” Godâ...

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Love Christ

What do I do when a loved one rejects the gospel? More specifically, when a loved one passes away apart from Christ, do I bend the truth? Compromise is easy, particularly in cliché phrases: “at least he or she is not suffering any more” or “may he or she rest in peace.” In reality, nothing is further from the truth....

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A Word on Pastoral Staffing and Jeremy McMorris

God gifts pastors to His church to equip the Body for the work of the ministry. Our pastoral team has sensed the need for more full-time equippers for several years now, pursuing additional help formally and informally. Jeremy McMorris has been part of that discussion for close to a year, but most intensively in the...

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Helmet of Salvation

The Roman soldier wore a helmet of thick leather with molded and beaten metal to protect the head from the deadly blows from the enemy’s sword. The helmet was essential in protecting the most vital part of the body, the head. So what are some of the attacks from the enemy that aim for our heads? Discouragement, doubt, pride, self-righteousness, loneliness, disconten...

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God Is Sovereign, Grace Is Sufficient

The foreknowledge of God is tightly linked to His sovereignty and the sufficiency of His grace for salvation. The key to understanding foreknowledge is first found in the word know. The term foreknowledge is not found in the Old Testament, but know is found in many places, including Exodus 33:17; Deuteronomy 9:24; Jeremiah 1:5; Hosea 8:4 and Amos 3:2. Know in these referen...

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Means of Grace: Prayer (Part 2)

Why should we pray? A simple question. At times, I find myself mindlessly going to pray out of obligation because that is what I should do first thing in the morning. Other times, I can find myself praying because I want something. While there are numerous reasons why we ought to pray, we need to consider the purpose of prayer and motivating factors to pray. The purpose an...

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Shield of Faith

The shield is the fourth piece of armor that Paul instructs every believer to use in our battle against the enemy. There were two types of shields used by a Roman soldier. One type of shield was small and strapped to the arm to be used as protection in hand-to-hand combat. The shield Paul referred to in this analogy was tall and broad and was used to protect the entire bod...

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Attributes of God: All Knowing

He knows everything: all events, all life past, present and future. He knows all details in the life of every being. The theological term we use for this is omniscience. God is omniscient. For believers, God’s omniscience should not result in uneasiness but rather in at least two other responses: comfort and adoration. We can be comforted in time of distress or tria...

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Raising Pharisees: What It Can Look Like (Part 1)

Ever heard of the law of unintended consequences? The idea is that when we humans confidently set out to do something good we often get consequences we never wanted. For instance, in South Carolina where I used to live, kudzu has taken root everywhere. Kudzu is a nasty climbing vine, introduced from its native Japan to deal with soil erosion. It spreads so quickly and...

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Means of Grace: Prayer

There are certain activities within the life of the church that God uses to bring blessing to us. These activities are called “means of grace.” Briefly defined, the means of grace are public and private activities (such as hearing the Word of God and praying) that are gifts or graces (and not law) from God. Before we consider the activities, let us consider the...

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Shoes for Your Feet

The third piece of armor Paul outlines in his letter to the church at Ephesus is shoes. Really, shoes! What does Paul have in mind here, or better yet, what is the Spirit’s intent in communicating the importance of shoes in one’s spiritual armor? I’m sure it’s not the newest Nike, Vans, Reebok, or Adidas that he has in mind. We, for the most par...

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The Righteousness of God

If you are like me, we need constant reminders of biblical truths. We often say “preach the gospel to yourself everyday.” The gospel is not just for unbelievers but for believers on a daily basis. You and I need a reminder to apply the gospel to our everyday circumstances. Other biblical truths we need reminding of are the attributes of God. There are many we c...

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Dependent Prayer: For Kids

Prayer. It’s one of our ten ministry commitments. It’s the expression of our dependence on God, the privilege of our adoption as sons and daughters, the bold access we have to God’s throne, the power ordinary people have to move God’s mighty hand, the worry killer, and the unceasing activity of the obedient Christian. Yet for something so essent...

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Means of Grace vs. Spiritual Disciplines

After reading my previous pastoral word, I realized that I woefully underdeveloped a crucial element in our understanding of the means of grace. Let me first give a brief review. The means of grace are simply public and private activities (such as praying and hearing the Word of God) that are gifts or graces (and not law) from God. When performed in faith, they conform us ...

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Breastplate of Righteousness

The second piece of armor described in Ephesians 6:10-20 is the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate was made of leather or heavy linen with slices of animal hooves or horns, or large pieces of metal hammered to conform to the body. No soldier would go into battle without his breastplate, for it protected his heart and other vital organs. So I think we all have an...

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Repentance

Repentance—a word we use quite often in our Christian conversations—is as central to our salvation as faith and yet it can often be an afterthought or an assumption. Repentance is an outworking of the Holy Spirit and has multiple aspects. It is defined as sorrow for sin, renouncing of sin, sincere forsaking of sin and obedience to Christ. It is not mere sorro...

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Preached Scripture (Part 2)

How we look at the Word determines how we look at preaching. Christ designed a way for His inspired, authoritative, sufficient Word to be presented. Verbal, declarative, instruc- tional, applicable, demanding, clear preaching is that way. This passage is not just the property of pastors, however, with application only for how they communicate. These words ground our corpor...

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Preached Scripture (Part 1)

In our little series on 2 Timothy 3:10-17, we’ve seen Scripture’s saving power, its final authority, and its complete sufficiency. Second Timothy 4:1 does not change Paul’s focus on the Word. Instead, he builds on everything he’s already said to demand a very practical application from Timothy. His pointed charge still has deep ramifications for...

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Means Of Grace

My early view of growth in Christ was fairly immature. For what I could figure out, being a Christian basically meant this: I made a profession of faith by saying a prayer and now I have to do certain Christian activities like read my Bible, pray and go to church. There was no rea- son behind those activities other than duty. While I benefitted from some of these activitie...

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The Belt Of Truth

Every Roman soldier would wear a tunic, a large square outer garment with holes cut out for the head and arms. It was meant to be worn loose, as it covered most of the body. As a good soldier prepared for battle, mostly hand-to-hand combat, it was critical that the soldier tuck in tightly any loose article of clothing so nothing would get caught up or be able to be graspe...

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Accountability

We hear the term “accountability” quite a bit. The basic definition is “to allow oneself or to be in a position to have an account taken of what you do, what you say or who you are; being liable or answerable.” What is accountability within the Christian context? Is it even biblical? One of the best places to go to answer that question is that list ...

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Sufficient Scripture

I have a love/hate relationship with instruction manuals. On the love side, I am a compulsive reader of instructions. Before I turn on any new phone, assemble any toddler toy or dive into the new furniture, I first sit down and read the instructions from cover to cover. Well, actually, I usually skip the Spanish, German, French, Danish and Chinese portions of the manual. O...

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Spiritual Reality

Through God’s providence, Andy Muxlow and I independently picked the same topic for the pastoral word. Since this is a topic that is on both of our minds and one that is profitable to con­sider, let’s again think carefully on the topic of spiritual warfare. ...

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The Whole Armor of God

I am fascinated by the amount of preparation, money, training and the sheer numbers of men and women that go into our U.S. Armed Forces to protect our freedom and defend our nation. Every soldier is trained with the most basic task of dressing and arming himself. It is critical that a soldier is prepared in every way for the battle that lies ahead. First, he must know ...

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Sanctification

Sanctification means being “consecrated” or “set apart.” There are two parts to the sanctification of a believer. The first occurs at salvation when someone is set apart for God as one of His people. In this moment, he becomes a “saint.” The second part of sanctification is what we usually think of as the definition and pertains to the p...

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Authoritative Scripture

“All Scripture is breathed out by God.” With this one simple phrase, Paul anchors his previous words about saving Scripture (2 Timothy 3:10-15 ) with the wealth of instruction still to come. And with that one phrase, massive dividing lines are drawn in Christian faith and practice. So very much hangs on our active belief of these few words. Scripture is not onl...

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Denying Oneself (Part 2)

At the beginning of the summer, I wrote a pastoral word on the topic of denying oneself during vacation and unscheduled free times. Andy Muxlow encouraged me to consider the same topic with respect to the workplace. So, after enjoying Labor Day weekend, here I go. Instead of using the same passage (Matt. 16:24-27), I think another passage may be helpful. Allow Colossians 3...

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Faithfulness Pleases God

The central message of Hebrews 11 has captivated my mind these last weeks since Shannon Hurley was with us: the topic of faithfulness. Verse 1 defines what faith is: the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. “By faith” is repeated 17 times in this chapter. By faith, we believe that God created the visible universe by His invisble wo...

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Saving Scripture

One of God’s blessings through kids is the reminder of how much we assume. For instance, I was under the mistaken impression that babies are born with some basic understandings. Turns out that not only are children born without basic communication abilities, hand-eye coordination, or motor skills, there’s even a learning curve on how to eat. To eat! Pretty ha...

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Cross-Shaped Love

As we’ve been studying and seeking to apply Jesus’ instructions from Matthew 20 regarding greatness within the Kingdom, I have been persistently convinced that a lifestyle adjustment must take place for many of us to pursue greatness through serving others. This week I found and thoroughly appreciated these practical suggestions for obedience from Paul Tripp,...

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Biblical, Earthly and Practical Wisdom

Biblical wisdom is the God-given ability to apply biblical principles to life. It is knowledge of God’s word rightly applied. It is valuable, you must seek it, and it will bear fruit that honors God. The Bible has much to say about wisdom. We should value it more than jewels, gold and silver, and nothing we desire can compare to it (Proverbs 8:11, 16:16). The wise a...

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Don’t Just Make Noise with These Commands

There are approximately 30 distinct one-anothers spread throughout over 50 separate scriptural commands in the New Testament. I want to make two points about the often-discussed one-anothers. First, they are commands. These are not optional suggestions that we get to pick and choose our way through, ignoring the ones that make us uncomfortable. These are commands from God...

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How to Hear (Part 2)

I hate being tricked. Telemarketers using the guise of “surveys” doubly annoy me, magic tricks make my brain hurt, and scam artists make my blood boil. Unfortunately, my heart is the best deceiver I know. When it comes to hearing, I’m concerned that I share a weakness to deception with all the rest of you. I can hear, and hear, and hear, and still not do...

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How to Hear (Part 1)

We do a lot of listening. It’s an integral part of our Christian lives to listen to sermons, as well as to other Christians speaking into our lives personally. So it’s also a constant challenge to actually hear the way God intends us to. In this crucial discipline of hearing, God has not left us without instruction. James 1:19-25 continues to shape my thinkin...

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A Glorious, Heavenly Celebration

Recently, I sat down in anticipation of the opening ceremonies of the World Cup. I felt particularly excited this year. Certainly the history of the Republic of South Africa played a part in the drama. After emerging from segregation and apartheid, the nation had much to celebrate. Former President Nelson Mandela was continually thanked and praised for uniting his nation. ...

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Wisdom from Above

The words wisdom and wise appear 484 times in the Bible. They appear some three hundred times in the Old Testament, one hundred of those times in the book of Proverbs alone. We learn that God is “wise in heart and mighty in strength” (Job 9:4) and that He is the source of wisdom: “Where can wisdom be found. And where is the place of understanding?” ...

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The Power of the Gospel

Two months ago I wrote a pastoral word about suffering that is grounded in hope. It was in the context of my friend Jim who had brain cancer and how God was being glorified. Jim went to be with the Lord on June 3. On Monday, at his memorial service, the Gospel was given in its entirety to several hundred people, including many non-believers. This was a unique opportunity w...

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Politics, the Church and the Individual Christian

Democrat. Republican. Obama. Health care. Supreme Court. Senate. This week, another election season has come and gone. As always, politics and the government have dominated news reports, talk shows and across-the-fence discussions. And yet again, I wonder if we are thinking as Christians in America. Let’s consider just a few principles from God’s Word regardi...

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From the Past for the Present

How must saints respond to sin in their lives? The Apostle Paul answers, “Put to death [or mortify] therefore what is earthly in you” (Col. 3:5-7 ESV). Puritan John Owen’s comments, first published in 1656: “Do you mortify? So you make it your daily work? You must always be at it while you live; do not take a day off from this work; always be killi...

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Denying Oneself

The school year is almost over! As a teacher, that probably brings me more joy than most (other than students). I look forward to summer: family time, late evenings, BBQs, swimming, vacation, a time to catch my breath and of course, a break from work. As I anticipate this time of year, I must confess that often the driving force behind my thoughts and emotions is not a des...

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Hail Clouds and the Sovereignty of God

As a farmer, I am always thankful to get through these spring months unscathed by the elements of the weather. From the time that our fruit is in bloom in February to the time that it is harvested in the summer, it is susceptible to many things outside our control. All sorts of weather can destroy a crop: freezing temperatures, hail, wind and late rains. On our crop insura...

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Put Off and Put On

We have all heard our pastors say, “You say what you say and do what you do, because of what you think. And you think what you think because of what you believe about God, His Word and yourself.” This saying is very practical for us to use in correcting sin in our lives. Doctrine leads to thoughts, which lead to action. When dealing with a particular sin in ...

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A Christian Mother's Day

Mother’s Day celebrations aren’t unique to Christians. All across our country, moms will be given cards, treated to meals, praised, thanked, hugged and loved. So what will make Mother’s Day different for us? Only a Christian Mother’s Day will properly honor both moms and God. First, a Christian Mother’s Day is uniquely focused on humil...

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The Past for the Present

For my next several opportunities to provide a pastoral word to you, I would like to pursue a historical perspective on some aspects of life here at Grace Church. This first excerpt is from a sermon delivered by Charles Spurgeon on April 5th, 1874. It expounds upon the words of Acts 2:47, “The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” This i...

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Evangelism and Weekly Planners

I don’t know how you manage your time, but I often get plunged into the tyranny of the urgent unless I specifically plan out my commitments and responsibilities for the week. I would like to encourage you this week in one particular area: evangelism. Jesus Christ, in the Sermon on the Mount, calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The reason...

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The Goal of Instruction

Occasionally, I find myself reading the Bible and learning doctrine out of obligation or responsibility. Paul gives instruction in this matter as he speaks to young Timothy regarding the purpose of knowledge and obedience: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5)....

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Grounded in Hope

During our Good Friday worship time, Adam read from Romans 5. Verses 1-5 summarize the wonderful news of the gospel: justification, peace with God, access by faith into grace and rejoicing in hope of glory. And, more than that, Paul says, we can rejoice in suffering because suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope and we have hope...

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Resurrection Reactions

Resurrection. It’s a startling word, a thrilling concept, and a spiritual keystone. It’s an essential for Christianity, a target for skeptics, and a theme for mythology and religions alike. This week gives us as a church another chance to focus uniquely on our central belief that Jesus rose from the dead. But within our church and without, reactions to this g...

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The Great Commission

Was the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ only for certain people in the church or was it a command to every believer? In the text, Jesus Christ is speaking directly to the eleven disciples after His resurrection and before His ascension. Given the context, the question is, Does the command given by Christ to the eleven apply to us? The answer is found in the command ...

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Hope vs. Consolation

God has providentially placed a few recent circumstances in my life to make me consider the reality of death. As many of you know, I’ve experienced the loss of two loved ones this past year. God has also used His Word through recent messages from Nathan Busenitz, Pastor Whitcomb and Upward to help me properly interpret my experiences and to further consider death an...

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God's Omniscience, Our Worship

Isn’t it fascinating to think about the all-knowing nature of our God? Our eternal God spoke the heavens into place. His perfect design of creation was not studied or learned; he knows everything (Isaiah 40:13-14). There is nothing that God ever improved upon knowing. He never needs an advanced study of any subject, any place or anyone. Our time in history is called...

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Put Off and Put On

We have all heard our pastors say, “You say what you say and do what you do, because of what you think. And you think what you think because of what you believe about God, His Word and yourself.” This saying is very practical for us to use in correcting sin in our lives. Doctrine leads to thoughts, which lead to action. When dealing with a particular sin in ...

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