At Grace, We value Anticipating God’s Movement

So, here we go – the first of 7 values I want to share with you that really form the DNA of Grace Church Roseville. First: We value anticipating God’s movement.

It’s really amazing to me, it’s been happening for months now, every Sunday morning myself and several other leaders walk around with this overwhelming sense: God is going to do something today. It’s been so freeing because I really feel very little “pressure” when I preach – I just get up there and say what I believe God is calling me to say and expect that God will use it. I am hearing similar reports from music folks, Catalyst teachers, and leaders in our kids ministry. And not only do we anticipate God’s movement, we’re seeing it — so much so that it’s becoming our new “normal”. I’m not sure why I am so surprised by that, I shouldn’t be — but ya know, it’s a very cool thing when you actually see it happening. And the stuff that we do without God really is of little value anyway. What does Jesus say in John 15? “Without me, you can do nothing”.

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Why do you do it?

I am starting a several part blog series here where I’m going to attempt to answer from my point of view, why we do what we do and also what it is that shapes our thinking in every activity/ event we do at Grace. These are called our “values”. Over the past year we’ve taken hours to reflect on what has been happening around here, the things we say continually, the phrases that have shaped who we’ve become and are becoming as a church. This list of 30-40 items was then worked through, mulled over and processed fully. We wrestled through the whole list and discovered 7 phrases that really captured what we do, how we do it and why we do it. Those 7 phrases I will share in this multiple post blog series. If you’ve been around Grace for any length of time, my guess is most if not all of these phrases will not be overwhelmingly “new” to you BUT as we put the 7 together, I think you’ll see how they can shape our present and our future. The only ones who have seen these are our leadership and a few people that our leaders have shared them with — so enjoy this, behind the scenes, first public look at our values through the eyes of me :). Stay tuned.

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Time to Think

Do we take any time to think? So much of life for most of us is defined for us instead of by us, let alone by God. What would it look like if we took some time to reflect? What if we paused once a week or even once a month to think more deeply about our lives? What is we took time to assess where we spend our time? What aspects of life are truly most valuable to us? How would God have us use our time and money? You see, most people I know are very busy but I’m not sure if we’ve always thought through what we’re busy doing. And really if those things that busy us are really worth our valuable investment. We assume we “should” do certain things, we’re presented with real needs and “somebody needs to meet them”. Are we the best somebody? Here’s the truth: there are more needs than we can meet both with hours and money. I’m sure if more people did their part we’d be better off, but because others aren’t, does that mean it’s our job?

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Holy Week

The most significant date on the calendar because of its revolutionary impact on our world and our lives is Easter. We recognize it as a celebration because of our personal application of its truth. It was not simply a raising from the dead but a resurrection, a transformation, a victory, and a once for all game changer for all who would believe. The week leading up this event is often called “holy” week. The word holy means set apart, sacred. It’s the ups and downs of the week that parallel the ups and downs of our lives. It’s the horror of the events of “Good Friday” that are the culmination of all the suffering in the world and the absolute worst of the worst. It’s this deep sadness, tremendous suffering and total sacrifice that leave us begging for resolution, yearning for the happy ending, longing for hope. That hope bursts through beyond our wildest dreams and expectations on that Easter morning. And for those who are humble enough to receive it, those willing to believe – it’s a happy day worthy of the greatest of celebrations, the most elaborate parties and a true reason for joy beyond comprehension. A joy that does not end in death, but a joy that only begins to taste it’s fullness in the forever after.

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Radical Reality

When it comes to living as a Christian, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. I’ve found it’s relatively easy to get revved up for a short period of time but it’s much more difficult to make it a part of our reality, our 24-7. This morning we shared 3 ways from Galatians 5:16-6:10 on how to make a radical life style on “norm”:

1. We need a radical connection — it’s about surrendering to God and letting Him work in and through us. It’s not about “doing more” but actually surrendering consistently to God. This means keeping a short account on sin, guarding against “idols” that work their way into our hearts and fostering a deeper connection with God through time in His Word, prayer and reflection.

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Radical Money-excerpts from Radical by David Platt

I recently finished reading a book called “Radical” in preparation for our current series. There were some good thoughts, particularly on the topic of money and giving. Here are some excerpts from the chapter on this topic. Allow his words to make you think or rethink finances:
(the following are all direct quotes)

Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more?

What if we actually set a cap on our lifestyles? What if we got to the point where we could draw a line, saying, “This is enough, and I am giving away everything I have or earn above this line”?

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Describing Grace Church

SO, I’m curious — how would you describe Grace Church to a friend? What would be the things you’d highlight? What would you say are high values at our church? What makes Grace unique from other churches?

As leaders we’ve been talking a lot about these things and this past Saturday we had a day of sharing as a community of leaders (elders and staff). It was incredible. We were asked, however, to assess what people understood about us as a church. You see it’s one thing to have a set of values, goals and uniquenesses but it’s another thing: what people actually “experience” and observe at our church. So, I’d love to hear from as many of you as would be willing. I don’t want to hear what you think is on our list, but more what you would believe we value based on seeing, observing and interacting with life at Grace Church. Feel free to share by adding a comment to this post.

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It’s always interesting (talking about money)

Since I’ve become a lead pastor I’ve been called on to speak on the topic of money from time to time and it’s always interesting. I really don’t have an issue with it anymore because I realize it’s really not a personal thing. I used to struggle because I feared people would look at the message and think I was “fund-raising” or trying to pay my salary. The big switch happened in my mind when I realized: it’s not so much about “making budget” as it is everyone giving and taking steps. What I mean is while the budget is critical because it allows us to do ministry, take care of our staff and further the mission — preaching isn’t intended to call people to give to that. The focus needed to shift in my mind from the church organization to the people. Each one of us is called to give, each one of us is called to prioritize God in our finances. It’s not an easy priority but an important one. Lisa and I have tried to increase our giving every year and so far have been able to but it definitely requires some hard decisions and living below what money we bring in. But I find it much easier to speak on the subject because it’s really a part of what it means to follow Jesus, just like reading the Bible, caring for others, praying etc. Sure, our use of money is probably most closely tied to our hearts but still this is a call for every Christian life. The point is this: my belief is if everyone who was a Christian at our church began to take steps to prioritize God in their finances, we wouldn’t have an issue with the budget plan and so we need to start with our hearts, not with the “needs” of the church.

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I’m coming

Hey — thanks for being a reader of the blog! It’s your visits that continue to inspire me to write and share thoughts. I’ve got a ton of them to share right now, but no time to share them. So, I’m wanted you to know I hope to be back with some brand new content and thoughts early next week, but for this week, well, I just can’t fit it in.
I hope things are well in your world and we’ll chat real soon!

-Jason