Bloom Where You Are Planted

Happy May, church family! This time of year, we get to celebrate God’s beautiful creation of spring and new life all around us. It’s a time for things to bloom! I have to be honest with you: I am not gifted in the area of gardening. I find that I cannot keep plants alive! I’m sure if I buckled down and took the time to learn, I could possibly get the hang of it. But as of this moment – my flower bed is empty.
I do, however, enjoy decorating! I currently have a sign in my front yard that is perfect for spring. It simply says, “BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED.” I glance at it every morning as I get in the car and head to work. The phrase has become very important to me because it is a constant reminder of how, I believe, God wants us to conduct our lives. Many times in life, I find that we can be so anxious to move on to the next season, that we have the tendency to think to ourselves, “Life will be better after I….” – and we fill in that blank with numerous goals. While is it very important to have goals, thinking that you will only be happy after you accomplish those goals is sadly not living in the joy that God has for us today! We try to “uproot” ourselves to find something more comfortable, but we rarely take the time to put our roots down deep and ask how the Lord wants us to bear fruit in this current season of life.   Sometimes we need to allow the Lord to grow us right where we are, because it is in those moments that our character grows. When our character is mature in Him, I find He then allows us to move on to the next season He has for us. So what season are you in? In what area does the Lord want you to grow? In what way can you allow Him to use you right where you currently are? How can you “bloom where you are planted”?

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”  Psalm 1:3 ESV

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9 ESV

 Pastor Gabrielle Aquilino
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Love

February is the month in the U.S. commonly referred to  as the “Month of Love”. The word “Love” is so misused in our culture and the era we live in. In the Miriam-Webster Dictionary, it is described initially as;


“strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties”, romantic affection or feelings, the object of attachment, etc…

However, further down in the definition as I read on I found a more scripturally sound definition that we should adhere to as true believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. I was almost surprised to have read what it said next because we just don’t hear love being defined in this manner often;


a :  unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) :  the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) :  brotherly concern for others
b :  a person’s adoration of God

This almost sounds like Luke 10:27 and various other verses in the gospel accounts.

27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’[a] and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’

Loving God and loving others is our mandate as Christians. Yes, we all have feelings of love but our response to those feelings doesn’t always show true love because those feeling are tied to things like selfishness,  nd maybe even lust.  Real love typically leads us to action, not just an emotional stirring. We can often say “we love chocolate” in the same way we say “we love God and our brother.” This month…and in the months to come, let’s be the authentic people of God and focus our energy on biblical love in our lives. My wife, Leanne, a Kindergarten teacher, uses this simple acronym to paint the picture of love which leads to JOY for her young students….

J – Jesus

O – Others

Y – Yourself

Keeping our focus on loving Jesus first and foremost will cause the proper alignment for love in our lives. If your love for Him is first, then a natural outpouring of love for others is prominent in your life. It is the fruit of love. It multiplies. It is the fruit that everyone sees; your neighbors, family, and all with whom you come in contact with.

Pastor Bill Kluender

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Happy New Year Grace and Peace

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Happy New Year Grace and Peace!

It is always an exciting time when we begin a new year. I think it is the potential of what could be that creates excitement, inspiration, and motivation within us. There is just something thrilling when something is new. For example, we can all appreciate being in a new car – there is literally a “new car” smell when you sit inside! It is interesting that we can now buy car air fresheners that have a “new car” scent. Isn’t that so funny! The automobile industry understands the effect that is created when we receive or experience something new! 

God has something to say about new things…“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV) What a joy to know that we serve a God who makes all things new! He made us new. 1 Peter 1:3 encourages us:  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” There is a wonderful ongoing adventure to experience in Him. He doesn’t want us to stay the same; He wants to keep doing new things in us!  “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV) How awesome to know that God doesn’t leave us the same, but He is constantly desiring to bring us from faith to faith and from glory to glory. It is God’s desire to keep things new and fresh in our lives as we walk with Him each day.

These truths are wonderful news, not only for each of us individually, but also for us as a church family. In this New Year comes fresh opportunity to see God’s Kingdom advance in us and through us. In our vision week in November, we acknowledged that faith, love, hunger and prayer were four important things that we can cultivate and develop as God continues to work in us over this next year. God wants to bring those qualities in us to a new level. As we allow Him to work in us, the Lord will make this a year of new growth and new fruit. I’m so glad we get to build His Kingdom and pursue Him together. May God continue to bring newness and freshness to your walk and revelation of Him in 2017. Believe with me for this to be the best year yet – because He is on the throne!
 
Pastor Jim Wehrer
Senior Pastor
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Merry Christmas

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I love the month of December because it is one of my favorite months. It is special time for family and friends to focus on Christmas together. The food, the fellowship and the season of the year have always been a time of excitement and joy for me. As we enjoy these days, we as believers need to be reminded that this is also the time of the year to speak about Jesus to those who have not yet met Him. Did you know that at this time of the year people are more open to hearing the gospel than at any other time of year? This is always something to keep in the front of our minds. Yes, this is an opportunity to share our faith; sharing who Jesus is to us personally, and why we have asked Him into our heart. People need to hear this from our lips, the Name of Jesus and new changes He has brought to our lives; changes of inner peace and confidence toward God; a knowing that our life and times are in His hands as He holds our future dear to His heart; and that He has a plan for our personal future that we are discovering day by day. Only we are an expert on our own life! If we don’t say this, who will? Too often there are many who are depressed and down at this time of the year, and believers should be sensitive to this, because people are looking for hope. These are people who are our co-workers, neighbors and extended family as well. It is also a time to renew connections with family and extended family we don’t often see, and a time to strengthen the family relationships we often too easily take for granted. Maybe even a time to extend forgiveness to family members, who have disappointed us, hurt us and need to hear from us with the words of forgiveness, love and acceptance. So many people long to hear the words that they are loved. Yes, the Christmas season is also a season of healing; the healing of hurting hearts.  So for me, as I enjoy the Christmas season and all that goes with it, I also know I need to be on the look-out through the eyes of my faith for those who need a touch from God. Let’s remember to invite folks to church…they’re more open to come to a church during the Christmas season than any other time of the year! Merry Christmas!
 
Pastor Ralph Freda
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We Still Give Thanks

 

We Still Give Thanks!

This month, I would like to remind you of the simple but important act of being thankful to God for all that we have.

In an age where our most basic needs like food, clothing and shelter are, by and large met for most Americans, we can often forget to be a thankful people. We live during such a time of unprecedented extravagance compared to any generation in history.

I remember something my father who went home to be with the Lord did some years ago. As I was writing this, it seemed a good example to use. He would go to the supermarket and bring home his “treasures.” He would lay them out on our dining room table for us to examine and marvel over. As a boy, I didn’t quite understand why he was making such a spectacle for a loaf of bread, some canned vegetables and maybe a box of Tastykakes. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that my dad had been raised during the great depression when such seemingly meager items were more of an extravagance. He was thankful!

Just imagine, if suddenly you couldn’t adjust the thermostat in your home to make it warmer or cooler or maybe you weren’t able to take a nice warm shower on a January morning without a great deal of work to do so. Well, believe it or not, most generations before us weren’t able to.

Most Americans just don’t have the perspective of former generations or less developed nations in the world have. I am not pointing the finger of judgement at anyone because three fingers would be pointing right back at me as I can easily go through my day perhaps without saying thank you to God for His provision. This is as much a reminder for me as it is for you.

There is so much to be thankful for and the “giver of all things,” the Lord Jesus Christ should be given thanks. Our hearts should be full of things to thank Him for.

Let this upcoming season be a reminder for us to be forever thankful to our Lord and Savior for it all…Our salvation, our relationship to Him and our loved ones and even our daily bread. It should be the earmark of all believers.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

Pastor Bill Kluender

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Let the Light of Christ Shine!

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Let the Light of Christ Shine!

Well folks, we are in the season where we must decide on a new president for better or worse, where all the experts are chiming in about what they think the best direction is. The Republicans bash the Democrats, the Democrats bash the Republicans and not to mention the Independents and Tea Party and the list goes on, everyone bashing everyone.

As an American I am embarrassed by the way this election season is going and will escalate in the mudslinging.  As a pastor I am troubled by how the church is fractured over it!  As a father I pray that things will change and as a grandfather I can only wonder what it will be like for my grandchildren as they grow.

As a follower of Christ I wonder if the church’s silence in the matter of Christian based values is a matter of political correctness, fear, weakness or all three.  Is casual Christianity the new orthodoxy?  Should we just sit by as observers?  I say NOT!

Church!  This is the time for us to rise and shine and bring the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to the masses, yes you know, to go into all the world!  If you can’t get to all the world, then start with your neighbor. Be the change agent in your family and community.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light.

But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23

“Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” Luke 11:35

I can only say what does the Word say?  What does the Word say?  What does the Word say?

Let’s not sit by and be spectators.  Let the Word of God be the compass and anchor for our lives. As we look at the world we live in, look at it with a worldview based on our Christian values.  As we vote, vote with our Christian values.  As we live, let the world see our Christian values!

Let the light of Christ in you shine through you!

Pastor Tom Kluender

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Seasons Of Change

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Welcome to September, Church family! I have always found that September symbolizes change. Change of seasons, change of grade, maybe a change of job. But whatever the change is, I find that I like many, resist it. However, nowhere in the bible do we read that change is bad or that we shouldn’t change but rather it encourages us to embrace every season of life knowing God is in the middle of it.

 The Good News is “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

 It’s not up to us to determine whether or not seasons of life come or go but simply to hold on to the One who holds the seasons. God has not changed nor has His love for you.

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you  hope and a future.”

God’s plans haven’t changed. He knows what the future holds all we need to do is trust Him and abide by His Word.He hasn’t forgotten about you, and he won’t let you go! 

Pastor Nate Huber
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Happy Birthday Grace and Peace

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With the month of August comes another birthday celebration for our church family – Happy Birthday Grace and Peace!  I have recently been reflecting on God’s character and goodness and I am in awe of how faithful and steadfast God is.  My heart is so full of gratitude!  Even when people, life, and circumstances are inconsistent and changing, God’s character and faithfulness is unfailing.  We hear Him remind us in Malachi 3:6, “I the Lord do not change” and in the New Testament, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). What a comfort this is, as perhaps more than ever before, we see such rapid change and shaking in the world around us.  None of this takes him by surprise and if we let Him, He will be the stability of our times (Isaiah 33:6). What a firm foundation we have as we walk with Him every day. 

So, Grace and Peace turns 31 this month and it is truly overwhelming to recount the faithfulness of God in the lives of people here in the region and those we touch through our faithful ministers, evangelists and missionaries around the world. Yet, as we rejoice in the past, we recognize God has a wonderful plan for us here and now.  We are here for such a time as this and God is going to do wonderful things in the days ahead!  Know that our mission remains unchanged.  We will continue to be a Spirit-filled people, a loving community, and an outreach focused church.  We are as committed as ever to present Christ in a creative, credible and contemporary way to the lost and broken generation around us. 

The local church is the hope of the world.  Never forget how valued you are to the Lord and to us, your church family.  How exciting to think, we get to be among those who will “do right and trust God,” and be those who will shape the world for Him! Through all that our church does and through the people that call it home, He will reach those that need hope, love, and salvation.  Let’s fix our eyes on Him as He brings us into a great future. As we wrap up summer and approach autumn, let’s continue to faithfully seek, knock, and align with the Lord as we look to the future. Join us in celebrating Grace and Peace – what was and is and let’s continue to press on to be all that God has called us to be.  On behalf of our pastors and leadership, we are grateful that we get to do life together with you! The best is yet to come!
 
Pastor Jim Wehrer
Lead Pastor
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Freedom’s Grand Display

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Freedom’s Grand Display

1“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV

One of my favorite things about celebrating Independence Day has to be fireworks. As a child I was afraid of the noise, but as I grew older that fear gave way to the sight and spectacle of a grand fireworks display. Observing the glow of explosive color reflected in smiling jaw-dropped faces I have often sensed the unmistakable power of a shared experience. 

Sadly, the beauty of such explosive power on display rarely takes us beyond the moment enough to ponder the meaning of those bombs bursting in air.  At the heart of this cataclysmic collision of gunpowder and flash, radiant color and lingering smoke beats the sound and smell of great sacrifice.  

Consider the generations who came before us who drew an un-crossable line in freedom’s soil. They endured great loss in defense of our God birthed inalienable rights. Yet if freedom’s fight stands apart from salvation in Christ Jesus, it falls short of the liberating truth it represents.  

From the moment sin entered the heart of man a beautiful explosive display of God’s redeeming power drenched in the blood of sacrifice began to unfold. Every time the forces of darkness try to strengthen the grip of sin’s enslavement, God’s plan of redemption in Christ Jesus explodes on the scene in a glorious display of grace accessed by faith, in the sinless Son given for all. Yet our call as redeemed isn’t merely to watch in wonder and appreciation.

We embody that display as our daily life explodes with amazing power and awesome brightness. We live our lives in such a way that people would see and be drawn to a celebration of our own death, burial and resurrection in Christ. Might our prayer and greatest hope be that those still bound by the chains of captivity would join our shared experience in knowing and following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!  

22 “For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is sa freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is ta bondservant of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 7:22 ESV

Only as a bondservant of Jesus Christ is true liberty found. Our Independence Day was ratified at the resurrection of Jesus, as He conquered death and hell, taking captivity captive, triumphing over the grave to procure our freedom forever. As a result we can now live as explosive and beautiful fireworks that shine gloriously on display for the whole world to see. Talk about a grand display of freedom! 
 
Pastor James Wheeler
Worship Pastor
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Sowing Into Legacy

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Through the grace of God, we have received a legacy from those who have gone before us, from our spiritual brothers and sisters. The Bible calls it an inheritance. We have received blessing after blessing from saints who have poured out their lives to extend the Kingdom of God. The impartation of wisdom and experience from these saints providing us with a firm foundation is incalculable.

Not only are we heirs of all that has gone before us, but Jesus looks at us as being His glorious inheritance. Ephesians 1:18 “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”.

An inheritance is often thought of as something of material value left behind after a person has passed. What is inherited is something for which one worked but was passed on to another who hasn’t personally earned it. However, a legacy, though similar to an inheritance, is something anyone can benefit from at any time, not just a designated heir after someone has died.

Legacy, for the believer, is more about bequeathing values, learned experiences, and a history of relationships and overcoming obstacles. It is advancing the Kingdom of God rather than amassing valuables. You leave a good legacy to future generations when you are genuinely grounded in offering yourself to God and His purposes. By this you make a meaningful and lasting contribution to advancing the Kingdom of God on earth. It is serving a greater cause than your own.

The requirement of such a legacy is that you embrace your uniqueness as a child of God. There is only one you. Passionately immersing your whole self into the life God has given you makes the gift of “you” available to all. Only you can take on the responsibility to ensure that your life will make an impact on others that will outlast your time on earth and have significance for eternity.

Let us all pray that we will leave a legacy of finishing well, of living a life of ministering to the Lord and others motivated by love. Let us endeavor to bring Him a glorious inheritance through our lives linked with the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us (Hebrews 12:1). The legacy God releases through us will last well beyond this life into eternity. Thank you for being used of God to help build this legacy together. We will share the eternal reward.

 

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