A Thankful People

Thankful_people_web
As November comes to us on the calendar, it brings many memories and possibilities. It is one of my favorite months, as I’m sure it is for many. It speaks to us of family gatherings and excitement for the upcoming Christmas Season. I’m sure for most, it is a month that reminds us to be thankful. This should be a hallmark of the believer; a thankful people. The lies of the enemy will always try to get us to focus on what we don’t have, but the evil one will never tell us what we do have and how good our Lord has been to us. We need to focus on what our God has done, encouraging us for what He will continue to do in the future for His Covenant People. An Old Testament phrase from Psalm 136, “For His loving kindness is everlasting,” can be correctly understood as “His Covenant love and faithfulness.” Because of our faith in Jesus’ accomplishments at the cross and the empty grave, we are in covenant with Almighty God, who is faithful to us and extends His covenant protection and provision. We don’t have to talk Him into it because for us, this is already His will. All He asks is that we believe Him! If we believe Him, then we are to live as a thankful people knowing that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and in that He alone knows how to keep us. November is a thanksgiving time for all, speaking and living out our thankfulness. For godly parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, this is an important time and opportunity for us to teach our young ones to be thankful. If we don’t teach them this, who will? Their future lives being thankful, is directly related to what has been sown into them during their formative years by having a thankful and godly family. This is our responsibility and one of the best ways to be thankful is to share it with those who look up to us, showing them the way of the Lord. Let’s make November 2015 the most thankful month we’ve ever had!
 
Pastor Ralph Freda


THANK YOU BLUE

THANK YOU

To the Men and Women of Law Enforcement,

 

Grace and Peace be unto you.

 

We here at The Church of Grace and Peace have watched with great interest as police officers all across this nation have been maligned, accused, and even demonized by certain groups, organizations, and even the politicians they protect. We’ve seen this represented in the media via news reports, blog posts, and other forms of social media. We are deeply saddened and bothered to see such mistreatment of those men and women of law enforcement for whom we owe such a debt and for whom we hold in such high esteem. We have seen the way you officers have been ostracized in some cases by the very people you have promised to protect and serve. We can’t even begin to imagine how much more difficult this has made your already incomprehensibly difficult job of serving and protecting our local, regional, and national communities. Frankly, it is just shameful. Therefore we find ourselves wanting, even needing, to express to you some facts we know to be true. We speak for ourselves but we are also fairly certain they hold true for many in the wide spectrum of the faith based community.

 

With that in mind we have written this “open letter” to you. We are aware an open letter is typically reserved for convincing someone on the opposite side of an argument of the merits of one’s own position in a public format, in hopes of moving that once adversarial person to a position or form of agreement. However; we are not doing that here in this open letter. Our purpose in addressing this to you is not to convince you to see the issue differently or from our opposing vantage point; but rather to ensure you we do not come from a place of disagreement but rather a place of appreciation and agreement.

 

Therefore here are a four declarations we’d like you to know:

 

  • We are grateful! So, whether you need to hear this or not, we in fact want you to know how grateful we are for the work you do and the part you play in our community. We are indebted to you and we honor you and hope to be nothing but an encouragement to you. We want you to know you will always be privileged guests in our house of worship as well as in our individual homes. We would be proud to have you join us any time you like. The doors of this church will always be open to you and we guarantee you will always be welcomed and greeted warmly, sincerely and affectionately here at The Church of Grace and Peace.

 

  • We respect you! We also want you to know we teach our children to respect you and we try to live out that example for them in our everyday lives. We assure them if they are ever in trouble and need to find someone they can trust, we encourage them to find a policeman. We believe you are trustworthy as a whole. Additionally it is imperative for us that you know we have committed to pray for you and bless you in any way we can.

 

  • God is with you and for you! We also want you to know we believe God is on your side. Not in the same way that our faith tells us He is on the side of all those who seek Him, which goes without saying. In that regard you certainly are. However; we actually believe God is on your side by the very nature of the task you perform. After all, as it says in the book of Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” And He is for you. In fact, in the Old Testament book of Isaiah 61:8, God says, “For I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing…” He actually endorses your vocation.
  • We are committed to demonstrate all of this to you! We also want you to know we are committing to making sure we are intentional in how we as a church body and as individual citizens express this appreciation. This is not some newfound appreciation we have just discovered and it certainly isn’t in reaction to any event or situation on the evening news. This appreciation is what we have always held in our hearts toward you and will continue to do so. We are merely realizing the need now to reiterate and better demonstrate that appreciation. So, please be assured that in as much as you have always been there for us, we are there for you and will continue to do so. For as long as you continue to serve and protect ensuring justice and righteousness as you have done (longer than we have actually been around) we will support you. In this way we want to partner with you in serving our community.

 

So in closing whether you practice our faith or not, we extend our thanks and this invitation to you. Yes, the world today is filled with haters. Some even may refer to themselves as those who follow Christ. That is disappointing, but in no way does it say we all share their opinion. You are heroes, role models, and true servants. Thank you and may God bless you.

 

Grace and Peace be with you always,

 

Sincerely,

The Leadership and Congregation of The Church of Grace and Peace



Back to School

School Days

Welcome to September, church family! Not only does September mark the end of summer, last minute beach days, and the arrival of pumpkin spice coffee, but it also means back to school. Whether you are a student, parent, grandparent or anywhere in between, we can all be part of seeing God move in powerful ways through the schools of Ocean County.

 

Throughout the Bible God makes it clear that age is not a defining factor in order for us to be used to do great things. It is God’s desire to see the youth generation do great things in their schools. However, the challenges that students face today is a far cry from yesteryear. Not only do students of today face all the challenges of being teens, but it is increasingly more difficult to live out a relationship with Jesus due to an ever more hostile youth culture toward the idea of a loving God.

 

So, what can we do to see the presence of God touch the schools of this region? First, we need to be a church that supports teens and young adults as they wrestle through whatever it is in life that they will face as they seek after the Lord. If statistics prove true, then your average 15-year-old is likely to be in a school with less than 1% of the population having a Christian worldview. Secondly, we need to be a church that encourages our students, showing them the genuine love and care that spurs them on to trust in the Lord daily. Finally, we need to be a church that prays for our students. With an average of eight out of ten people coming to know Jesus as Lord and Savior before the age of 21, it is imperative that we go to the battle stations of prayer regularly on their behalf. I firmly believe that we can and will see miracles, signs and wonders poured out in the schools of this region, but it will only come if we, as a body, wage war in prayer to see the heavens opened and a generation return to righteousness.

 

God planted Grace and Peace in Toms River for such a time as this — to make disciples of every generation. I am deeply honored and privileged to serve alongside you as we see Jesus lifted up and brought to every school, college and home.

 

Nate Huber – Co-Youth Pastor



Happy 30th Birthday Grace and Peace!

Happy 30th Birthday

Happy 30th Birthday Grace and Peace!

“Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you” (Psalm 89:8). As we celebrate the 30th Birthday of The Church of Grace and Peace, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by God’s goodness and faithfulness. God’s plan for the advancement of His kingdom in the Earth is hinged on the local church being a lighthouse to their community. I am amazed when I think that God placed a vision on the hearts of Walt and Maureen Healy to plant a church in Toms River – one that began in his living room – and is now meeting at several campuses around the state! With the call to be God’s pastor in Toms River and the commission from God to “teach My people,” Walt, his team, and the great people who call Grace and Peace home, have been faithfully impacting people for the King and His Kingdom for three decades. As we look back over the years, there is so much to be grateful for – lives saved, healed and restored, as well as nations reached and ministries launched – thank you Lord for all you have done!

Now as we look forward to the future, our vision remains unchanged and burns brighter than ever. Our statement of vision is this: The Church of Grace and Peace is called to identify, recruit and train believers to carry the ministry of Christ and the local church into every area of our society by presenting the Lord in a contemporary, creative and credible way so as to fashion a people forged in His character, pursuing His purpose and working His will. We are to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, raise up leaders who will lift up Christ, building the people that shape the world.

Our world is shaking but Jesus will be the stability of our times and The Church of Grace and Peace will continue to reach and rescue a generation that is lost and equip them to become Kingdom Champions for Him. We are as committed as ever to present Christ in a creative, credible and contemporary way. We will continue to be a Spirit-filled people, a loving community and an outreach focused church. Here is the most exciting part: you have a part to play – to be among those who will “do right and trust God,” and to be one who will shape the world! Together, as Scripture says of David, let’s ensure it will be said of us: “They served the purposes of God in their generation.” 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. The best is yet to come!
Lead Pastor
Jim Wehrer


Independence Day

DAY

 Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July, is the day we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On July 2, 1776 The Declaration of Independence was unanimously approved by a committee of five men and adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. It announced that the thirteen original colonies were now thirteen newly independent sovereign states and no longer part of the British Empire.

Within that document there is a statement that this country has held precious, and her people have shed their blood for.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.

These are some of the things that our loving Father also desires for all men, even to the extent of the shedding of His blood through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. Freedom is not free – there is always a price to be paid. Because of sin in the world and the depravity of man’s heart, oppression, bondage, wars and rumors of wars will always be present. However, God made a way for us to escape this present darkness by sending Jesus, the Light of the World. John 16:33 says “…in Me you may have peace, in the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (MEV)

This Independence Day as we gather to celebrate our freedom with family and friends, let us remember to give thanks to God for this country we live in. Let us always be one nation under God, and most of all give thanks for the eternal liberty He has given us in Jesus “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed;” Luke 4:18 (MEV)

Happy Independence Day!

Bob Oettinger

 



Father’s Day

father's_day_2015

Americans celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of every June. This holiday celebrates fathers and fatherhood in general, including father figures such as guardians and grandfathers. The occasion is marked by giving a gift to one’s father or spending time with him. It is a time set aside to value a father’s role in one’s life and to reflect upon paternal bonding.

As I was growing up I never really saw my dad as my special friend. He was the strict disciplinarian in our home, and was not the one I would run to first on the dreaded day report cards were handed out. One actually had to hand carry it home and present it to his parents. I always gave it to mom and then headed for the seclusion of my bedroom. In high school I was not allowed to dress the way all the cool kids dressed, i.e., “Beatle boots, long hair and side burns,” yeah right. Dad made me deliver my newspapers even when it rained.

I graduated high school, joined the Navy and got married. God blessed my wife and I with two children, a boy and a girl. I was never my son’s best friend, after reading his report card I would have to beckon him out from the depths of his bedroom and regardless of weather conditions expected him to attend to his responsibilities. My son never wanted a pair of Beatle boots, go figure.

Hebrews 12:5, 6, 11: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines.” “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

“We had earthly fathers that disciplined us and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of our spirits and live.” Heb. 12:9

My dad passed a few years ago and I greatly miss my dear friend. My son and I are best buddies and enjoy each other’s company; God is my Abba Father, the one who loves me unconditionally.

Happy Father’s Day!

Pastor Bob Oettinger
 


Spiritual Motherhood

spiritual-motherhood 

What a joy it is to celebrate motherhood! God’s Word tells us to give honor to whom honor is due. Mothers, we honor YOU! We pray God’s blessing on you and may His love and grace abound in you in all things always.

Whether you are a mom of young children or a mother of adult children, we are privileged to be a part of God’s plan to bring up Godly offspring. In Psalm 127:3, God says “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward.”

As we pursue God’s best as mothers, we are reminded to… 

be thankful for who He is, what He has done, and His love for us. It starts with a relationship with God through Christ Jesus. He is our Father and nothing can separate us from His love. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 NIV.

be consistent in the nurturing and training of our child. There will always be distractions and challenges, but consistency bears awesome fruit – it is worth the diligence and effort to stay focused. We are over comers in Christ Jesus! The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. Proverbs 20:7 NIV. Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. Proverbs 20:11 KJV. Wow!

be still and know that He is God. Even in the midst of activity and a full schedule, God has given us the ability to be still, yielding to His spirit and not walking according to the flesh. Acknowledging Him as God quiets our soul so we can hear His voice and make righteous decisions regarding our children. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. Psalm 42:5 NKJV.

He truly is our help. We walk in God’s covenant and favor with Him. Let’s enjoy the blessing of spiritual motherhood.
 
Pastor Lisa Martin


Sharing the Resurrection to the Ends of the Earth!

sharing_the_resurrection

Sharing the Resurrection to the Ends of the Earth!

What a wonderful time of the year this is. Spring is a time when the trees, grass, and flowers come alive. There is more sunlight and warmer weather. It is a welcomed change after the long and snowy winter we’ve had! And of course for us as believers, we celebrate the world-changing events of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is at the Cross and through His death on that cross that our sins are forgiven and our lives are redeemed. But the good news doesn’t stop there. After they took Jesus down from the cross and laid Him in the tomb, He didn’t stay there! Luke 24: 6-7 tells us about what Jesus’ followers found when they arrived at His tomb after the third day and were greeted by the angel:

“He is not here; He has risen!” Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”

Jesus is alive – He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords – and because He lives, we live too! We have newness of life. 1 Peter 1: 3 says: “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 no more important news than this! It is no wonder that the New Testament records five different occurrences where Jesus commanded His disciples to share this great news with the whole world. The commission Jesus gave to His first disciples is the same commission He gives to us today. At Grace and Peace we will have a great opportunity to catch a fresh vision concerning this Great Commission during our Missions Emphasis Week (April 19 – 26). The heartbeat of missions for every church needs to be sharing the salvation and glory of God to the ends of the earth. Our church family has embraced the missions mandate since our beginnings and we now regularly support missionaries that are making an impact in the United States, Panama, Papua New Guiney, Israel, Italy, France, Central Europe, Africa, Burundi, Thailand, Japan, Burma, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and among the persecuted church. As we celebrate the Resurrection season, we can rejoice that we are alive in Him and we can rejoice that we are partnered with Him to see the glorious gospel preached to the ends of the earth. Thank you Lord!
 
Written by – Pastor Jim Wehrer


New Life

All Things New Religious Web Banner
March is a funny month, isn’t it? There are days when we are beginning to experience warmer weather for the first time all year and then there are other days when it is still as frigid as ever.

For most of us, the best thing about the month of March is the fact that it brings in the first day of spring. Most of us, regardless of our favorite season, thoroughly enjoy the feeling of a new spring day. Flowers start to bloom, the days get warmer, and there is a fresh scent of new life everywhere.

Why do we find these days so enjoyable? I think it is because there is something hopeful about encountering a bright and cheerful day outside after enduring so many weeks of a cold winter. We become invigorated at the notion of new life springing up everywhere.

I once heard someone say, “The longer the night seems, the more cheerful the morning is.” Isn’t that true in all of our personal lives? Sometimes we experience seasons where we feel as though we have been stuck in the same mode for a long time and there hasn’t been a ray of hope in a while. It feels as though we haven’t experienced new life in eons. What gives us joy in moments like this is the reminder that God constantly desires to breathe fresh life into our hearts and wants to bring us into new seasons with Him.

What new, bright and beautiful thing does God want to spring up in you during this season? Are there areas in your life where you need to allow the Lord to breathe something fresh in you on the inside? God is always ready and willing to show us His ways and bring us into new and amazing seasons!

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

– Psalm 30:5

By Pastor Gabrielle Aquilino

 



Let’s Look at Love

maureen_healy

 

Jn. 3:16…for God so loved the world (you) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever (especially you) believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (God’s nature). Parentheses mine. I think this is the epitome of true love. Father God created us to walk in His nature and then sent Jesus His Son to buy us back from the evil one and give us the ability to do it.

I believe you should be considering at all times how you can bring someone to believe Jn. 3:16 in their own heart, fully and completely. As we do this we are truly loving our brothers and sisters. There are many, many, many people in our spheres of influence who don’t have a clue about what God has done for them in the “giving” of Jesus. Then there are others who have professed that they do believe Jn.3:16, but their lives don’t seem to line up with the everlasting life (God’s nature) that He says we have as a result of that belief. Everlasting life (God’s nature) was demonstrated by Jesus every single day of His life on earth. And because He went to the cross for us we have the ability to walk as He did, in everlasting life (God’s nature).
 
Love Works-Theme
 
So, how can we love those around us? We can make our lives reflect that wonderful everlasting life (God’s nature) a little more each day. How is that possible? It’s possible by being very watchful to take our thoughts (every single one, good and bad) captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). We can encourage each other and actually teach each other to be more like Jesus by practicing being like Him ourselves. Each and every one of us has a long way to go to demonstrate this. The good news is that we can all start today and if we find we’re not doing it tomorrow, just start again! Are you familiar with the old adage…preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words? It is my opinion that we should make it our goal to let the words God approves come out of our mouths. How will we know what He approves? Take each and every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Remember, when God gave His Son He didn’t judge us…He forgave us, totally and completely. We can do the same for those around us once we’ve accepted Jn. 3:16 as reality in our lives and allowed Holy Spirit to work through us to capture each and every thought! Loving and forgiving are God qualities of life. We cannot accomplish them without Him being front and center in our minds.

I challenge you to love as Jesus loved…through the power of Holy Spirit. This could be the very best Valentine’s Day ever if you explore “loving” as God sees it.

 

By Pastor Maureen Healy