The “Enormidad” of God

One of the blessings of going on short term missions trips is seeing the enormidad (enormity) of God. His enormity is never more on display than when you travel around the world to see His gospel believed and disciples being made in other tongues and other cultures!

What joy the Ecuador team has already experienced in sharing Christ on the streets of Quito, worshiping, sharing testimonies and ministering to Ecuadorian children. Hey, even the spy guys showed up here in Ecuador!

The team has seen the blessing of God over and over already. We wanted to get a handful of pictures up to share just a small flavor of our mission so far. Our internet access is very limited so this may be the only time we can get anything here ion the blog. Enjoy some pictures!!

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I Will Prepare For Worship

I-Will-Prepare-for-Worship

 

The following was originally posted at thomranier.com 

 

I Will Prepare for Worship

This weekend I will attend my church’s worship service.

I will prepare for that corporate worship event;

I will not take the moments lightly.

I will see it as a precious time to gather with brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

I will prepare for worship.

I will ask God to prepare my own heart.

I will ask Him to help me hear God’s Word clearly.

I will ask Him to speak to me that I might be changed.

 

I will prepare for worship.

I pray that I will not be distracted by my own preferences:

By the style of music; the length of the sermon; the place where I sit;

Or anything that would cause me to focus on me instead of God.

 

I will prepare for worship.

I will pray for my pastor that the sermon will be anointed.

I will pray for strength for my pastor,

And for encouragement in a world that often offers little.

 

I will prepare for worship.

I will pray for other leaders in the church,

Leaders often unnoticed and unappreciated,

And specifically for those who sacrificially care for our children in the services.

 

I will prepare for worship.

I will pray that I will hear God’s voice in the music, in the prayers,

And in every moment we gather as a body of believers,

United in heart, focus, and purpose.

 

I will prepare for worship.

I will pray with my family before we leave to go the church service.

I will also pray alone for the services before we leave,

Even if it’s only for a few minutes.

 

I will prepare for worship,

As I see fellow believers enter to worship together,

I will pray for them and their families,

And I will pray for their own hearts of worship.

 

I will prepare for worship.

I understand I am blessed to be able to gather,

Because I know that many Christians around the world

Are being persecuted and banned from such times.

 

I will prepare for worship.

I pray I will understand that it is a foretaste of heaven,

And that I will never take such times for granted,

I pray I will truly rejoice in the house of the Lord.

 

I will prepare for worship.

Thank you, God, for your grace.

Thank you, God, for you goodness.

And for allowing me these precious moments to gather to worship You.

 

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

—Psalm 122:1 (HCSB)

What Is A GUBA?

Guest post today from Pastor Jeff Bartz.

What’s a GUBA you ask? A GUBA is a kid who is Growing Up Born Again. In other words, it’s a kid who is growing up in church, perhaps even growing up in a Christian home. It’s easy for them to show up at church; they’re made to come.  Sometimes at church they feel like they’ve “heard it all before.”  It’s not hard to understand why GUBA Kids sometimes have a tough time owning their faith.  Because their faith was never their own, some leave the church and the Lord after they graduate. They were just going along with something they were made to do.

We went to Camp Bethany in Sinclairville, NY to devote a weekend to addressing the unique challenges our GUBA Kids face, like:

  • Motives for attending church
  • Having a vision for the church – Jesus’ bride!
  • Going to the right places when struggling with doubt
  • Honoring parents
  • Choosing influences
  • Having a genuine, consistent time with God
  • …and much more!

Our time was designed to invoke a passion for taking greater ownership of a walk with the Lord. We wanted to offer hope to students – that they can have a firsthand faith, and they can start living it this weekend!  With messages from God’s Word in 1 Samuel 1-3 we challenged them to throw away their secondhand religion that they wear on the outside and embrace Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word for themselves.

Several young adults (Danny & Aimee Dawson, Collin Cassidy, Taylor White, Meg Hurlbut, Emily Pelton, and BJ Greathouse), many of whom are former GUBA Kids, joined in on the excitement and served on a panel for two sessions, interacting with several questions, two of the biggest being, “How come some GUBA Kids don’t stick?” and “As a GUBA Kid, how can I insulate myself from a corrupt world?”  Their dynamic insights into the issues facing GUBA’s today, along with extended opportunities for personal time with God, greatly impacted our students!

That’s the spiritual content of the weekend in a nutshell.  The video captures the fun.

THANK YOU! to our youth leaders, young adults, and students for making this a memorable and spiritually rich weekend!

Imago Dei Of Motherhood

 

Mother and child - happy time

I miss my mom. She left us for heaven Mother’s Day weekend 6 years ago. It was sudden and unexpected. Life can be that way sometimes, sudden and unexpected.

My mom

My mom

I miss my mother-in-law. She left us for heaven just over 2 years ago. It was a long hard journey home for her. Life can be that way sometimes, a long hard journey home.

I am grateful for my wife and the mom she is. I see in her wisdom, grace, love, sacrifice and the willingness to face each day with the courage only faith can provide. Life can be that way sometimes, faith is all you have.

I am utterly amazed by motherhood. It is a complete devotion to build into another life. A mom so empties herself into her children that one wonders how she can never run out of love. She so sacrifices for her children, that one wonders how she can carry on for all her years. Surely there is an end, a limit, a bottom to her supply of love and sacrifice?

If there is, I have not seen it.

I did not see it in my mom, even in the hardest of times she faced. I did not see it in my mother-in-law, even in her frailty. I do not see it in my wife. There is no end to her love and there is no limit to her sacrifice.

This is the “Imago Dei” (Image of God) as seen  in motherhood. There is no end to the love of God and there is no limit to the sacrifice of God. A mother divinely reflects her Creator in her complete devotion and commitment to the well being of her children. God made a mom to reflect the tender compassion and unconditional care He has for His own.

This is why the Scriptures are clear in its’ command to honor our mothers. In so doing, we honor the Creator who designed motherhood to reflect something of Himself; namely, agape love.

The love of a mother is divine in nature. Of course sin has tainted this but nevertheless, the pure love of a mother is a picture of God’s love for His children.

I’m glad to have a glimpse into the divine in my own life. I saw it in my “moms” and I see it in my wife. The utter tenderness and selflessness, even at 3 am, even in the face of sin, even in the midst of heartache, gives evidence to the divine nature that is part of motherhood.

My wife, Doris, with 4 of our children.

My wife, Doris, with 4 of our children.

Take a moment this Mother’s Day and see the glory and beauty of our Creator in motherhood.  Celebrate God’s grand and beautiful gift of motherhood. We never know whether we are on a long hard journey home or whether something sudden and unexpected will happen. Life can be that way sometimes, you never know what lies ahead and faith is all you really have to face each day.

 

Church Rocks Because Our Children’s Team Does

Child Thank You

We have an awesome team at Grace that minister to the children God brings our way. I am humbled by their servant spirit and true joy in serving the Lord by serving kids.

At times children’s ministry can be a somewhat thankless role. Rarely do Sunday School teachers and children’s ministry workers end up on the platform giving testimonies of exciting happenings in the children’s department. Cleaning up after rambunctious munchkins and making sure everybody makes it back from the bathroom just isn’t the stuff compelling praise and testimony time is made of. Yet, seeds are sown. Foundations are laid. Parents who desperately need to be fed the Word are because their kids are safely being taught the Bible in another room. Even the dad who is far from faith can be exposed to Christians and the love of Christ because someone is willing to care for and share Christ with his child.

So, when something like this (picture above) comes from a “new to us” child like Kylee, we get excited. This is our (earthly) thank you.

And this is my thank you to all who serve in our children’s ministry. You are making a difference one little life at time!!!

Friday Frivolity ~ Mom Style

A merry heart does good…

Warning to moms from my wife: this will be more about tissues than frivolity.

How Do You Spell Summer ~ M.i.s.s.i.o.n.s Of Course

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English was not my best subject (still ain’t), but I really do know how to spell summer. It’s just that missions are a big part of our summers. No sipping sweet tea by the pool, nope, we will be serving the body of Christ in Spain and Ecuador this summer.Kayla in Spain

Kayla Underwood (pictured to the right in Spain last year) will be serving a summer internship with a team from A.B.W.E in Madrid, Spain in June and July. Kayla attends Baptist Bible College and is interested in and praying about a Spanish speaking ministry after graduation. For more about Kayla and her trip to Spain (and to even support her) click here for her blog.

11 of us (pictured above) will be heading off to Ecuador to help our missionary partners, the Davoll’s, in July. Every year we seek to send a group to visit and minister along side one of the missionaries we support. Here is a video John Baker (of the Ecuador team) created to raise his support that gives a great overview of our trip. Make sure you watch all the way through for the bloopers. I’m grateful for the ingenuity and resourcefulness that seems to be present on this team! If you would like to help John, and by extension, others on the team go and be a blessing to the Ecuadorian people this summer, click here. John has some awesome thank you gifts for supporters!