March 2 – A 7 Day Conversation with Ruth Friend LPCC – Comparison

Read 2 Corinthians 10:12

During this week, we are going to be listening to Ruth Friend, a licensed professional clinical counselor and dear friend of Grace Church, as she teaches us about the value of mental health and how we can go about honoring the Lord through it.

Today we talk about comparison and worrying about what’s in our own basket.

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March 1 – A 7 Day Conversation with Ruth Friend LPCC – Acknowledgement

Read Psalm 139:23-24

During this week, we are going to be listening to Ruth Friend, a licensed professional clinical counselor and dear friend of Grace Church, as she teaches us about the value of mental health and how we can go about honoring the Lord through it.

Today, we talk about the value of acknowledging the emotional pain that’s within us all.

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February 28 – A 7 Day Conversation with Ruth Friend LPCC – Issue Within Us All

Read Matthew 9:10-13

During this week, we are going to be listening to Ruth Friend, a licensed professional clinical counselor, and dear friend of Grace Church as she teaches us about the value of mental health and how we can go about honoring the Lord through it.

Today, we talk about how emotional pain and/or sickness is something we all have to some extent and has detrimental effects if we don’t address them properly.

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February 27 – Personality of Jesus – Righteous Anger

Read John 2:13-17

If you are like me when you think about Jesus, you picture Him smiling, maybe laughing with His disciples, reaching out to heal someone or welcoming the children to come to Him.  You don’t usually picture Him as being angry. But, why not? Being angry is a part of being human just like being happy, sad, loving, or tired.  Jesus was divine but He was also fully human so, of course, He felt at times all the emotions that go along with being human.

But it is not the fact that He got angry, but it is why and at what He was angry about that counts.

Who did Jesus get angry with?  It wasn’t His fellow Jews.  He saw them as sheep without a shepherd.   It wasn’t His disciples who He had to explain things to over and over again or even the teachers of the law who were plotting against Him during His whole ministry.   It wasn’t even Judas who betrayed Him! Nor was it against the ones who crucified Him since He asked God from the blood-stained cross to “Forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

It was directed at what was going on at the temple that day. What did He see that caused that reaction?  He saw people who were going to the temple to worship God, but were being forbidden to do so for the sake of the almighty dollar.  Leaders who were put in that position to help people become closer to God were cheating the people and lining their own pockets. This was an offense against God Himself and the temple.

Yes, Jesus got angry, and, even though He acted, His anger wasn’t directed towards the people who were running the money changer tables at the temple.  It was against what they were doing.   Jesus wasn’t showing vengeful, out of control anger but righteous anger.  Righteous anger is defined as anger that is directed towards what angers God Himself.  It stems from an anger that arises when we witness an offense against God or His Word.  It is directed towards the sin not the sinner.

Jesus had come to Earth to bring people closer to God, but what was being done in the temple that day was putting needless road blocks between God and His people.

Even though Jesus showed anger, it is good to note He did not sin. No animals or persons were harmed, no property destroyed, and no money was taken!  His anger was directed at the sin, not the sinner.

Everyone at some time or another gets angry.  When we do, it is good to stop, take a deep breath, think and pray before taking any action.  What is it you are angry about?  Is your anger righteous or self-seeking?  If self-seeking, maybe you need to redirect it.  If righteous, an offense to God or His Word, then put on the full armor of God and boldly, wisely, prayerfully address it! Don’t let it simmer to the point of boiling over!

Pat Arnold

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February 26 – Personality of Jesus – Gethsemane

Read Matthew 26:36-46

Gethsemane. 

The word means “oil press”. It’s fitting, if you ask me. The last place Jesus went with His disciples before the nails and the cross and the tomb and the death and the life and the victory. Jesus led them to this Gethsemane garden, where He would experience the press of anguish and dread like none of us have ever or will ever know. This Gethsemane, where Jesus battled His will and let the Father have it all.

The fight for my soul and for yours began long before Calvary. Jesus’ three words declared the victory from the cross.

“It is finished.”

But hours before those three words, He spoke five others to the Father in a private moment on His face in that Gethsemane garden, begging God to take away what He knew had to be done. Five words of surrender in which He literally gave the Father His own desire so that He could accomplish what He’d come to earth to do.

“Yet not as I will…” Five words. And then four more. …”(B)ut as you will.” And that one sentence of surrender propelled the exchange of His life for ours.

Jesus’ whole life, He had leaned on the Father, followed His way. He always knew exactly where He was going – through Calvary and the tomb – before conquering death itself with His own life that lasts forever for you and for me. But first, He went through Gethsemane. Because surrender always precedes obedience to God.

That’s where Jesus laid it all out for His Father. Left it right there on the ground in that garden where His will was pressed to the place of surrender. And there He surrendered it all.

Are you pressed to the point where surrender is really your only choice? Jesus knows that kind of pressure. Follow Him through it and you will emerge with the freedom that lives real and true on this side of heaven and then forevermore.

Bria Wasson

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February 25 – Personality of Jesus

Read Hebrews 4:14-16

“No one understands like Jesus. He’s a friend beyond compare. Meet Him at the throne of mercy; He is waiting for you there.”

Over fifty years ago, John W. Peterson penned these words into a song following a bitter experience. Mr. Peterson gave this account of the song.

“I began to feel very alone and forsaken. Suddenly, I sensed the presence of the Lord in an unusual way and my mind was diverted from my difficulties to His faithfulness and sufficiency. Soon the thought occurred to me that He fully understood and sympathized with my situation- in fact, no one could ever completely understand or care as did He.”

My husband was only twenty-one when he experienced the tragic loss of his mother. He recalls hearing the radio play that comforting song soon after she crossed into glory. He was able to stay the course because he could cast all his care on Jesus. Why? Because Jesus, fully God, was also fully man and can sympathize with all of our weaknesses and difficulties.

Three words summarize the book of Hebrews:

Jesus is better.

Jesus is better than all the Old Testament symbols that pointed to Him. As Moses was instructed on Mount Sinai, the tribe of Levi was set apart for priestly duties. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to offer the blood of a spotless lamb for the sins of the people and his own sins. Hebrews chapter 5 says that the high priest can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided since he himself also is beset with weakness.

But, as the theme of the book tells us, Jesus is better. When Jesus stepped out of heaven, He chose to come, not as a fully grown, mature man, but as a baby. He was dependent on His parent’s nurturing. He ran and played and probably fell down and scraped His knee. He learned a trade as a craftsman from His earthly father. He had friends and enemies. He laughed and cried. Jesus embraced all of our humanness, but, because He was also fully God, never sinned. For this reason, He is the greatest high priest. He understands all of our weaknesses but, because He has no weakness or sin, He not only offered the sacrifice, but He became the sacrifice. John called Him the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Only Jesus could be both the priest and the offering.

We all want an understanding friend when we encounter difficulty. We long for someone who accepts us and will never let us down. But, as I have heard from one of my favorite Bible teachers, the content of contentment is Christ. We will always be disappointed if we look to others to meet our needs that only Jesus can meet. Is Jesus your friend? Do you come boldly before His throne and find His understanding help in your time of need? May your heart be filled with the chorus, No one is so near, so dear as Jesus; cast your every care on Him.

You can give Him all your cares because He fully understands.

Charline Engle

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February 24 – Meet the Team – Mike Molter

Read Isaiah 41:10

Hello, my name is Mike Molter and I’ve been asked to do a brief bio on myself.

First and foremost, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.

I’ve also been married to my wife, Denise, for over 31 years. We have three daughters- Kathi, Nicole and Leah – and three grandkids – Lincoln, Scarlet and Colton.

My job title is Network Engineer and I work for an organization called TCCSA which helps with technology needs in virtually all of the school districts in the area.

Growing up, my family didn’t go to church and I wasn’t all that interested. When I was still in high school, I joined a bike riding group because they did long rides and it sounded like a good challenge. It turned out they were a Christian group and I also found out they were a singing group which is a whole other story. I ended up being introduced to Jesus Christ and accepted Him as my Savior. I started to grow spiritually but didn’t get plugged into to a church and things didn’t go well for years after that.

Fast forward about 15 years and I married Denise. She felt we should look for a church home and she wanted to visit Grace. I have no idea why but I didn’t even want to visit Grace. To make a long story short, we visited, came back the next week and have been going ever since. I’m so glad God led us to Grace. There have been such great teaching and growth opportunities through the years. Opportunities like being involved in outreach ministries, leading classes and going on mission trips to New Orleans, Canada, the Czech Republic, Kyrgystan and Cambodia.

Another reason that I’m very glad I’ve been involved in a church and small group became apparent over the last few years when I’ve had some significant health issues. Had I not been part of these groups, I don’t know how I would have made it.

For many years I’ve been encouraged to read God’s word, spend time with Him and turn to Him in both the good and bad times. So, when the hard times came, I had already been filling my life with God’s truth and had relationships with people who cared about us and stuck with us during the hard times. I believe one of the very significant ways that God showed His love for us was through the people I just referred to.

A verse that has become very important to me and illustrates this well is Isaiah 41:10:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

God has helped us, strengthened us and lifted us up and He did much of this through those wonderful people we are very close to. So, I highly encourage you to get involved in a church and small group and build those important relationships with God and people.

God never intended for us to try to make it through life on our own. Start the process of joining a group by filling out this form here: https://gracechurch.ccbchurch.com/goto/forms/25/responses/new

 Mike Molter

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February 23 – Meet the Team – Shelly Eberly

Read Psalm 19:7-11, Hebrews 4:12 and James 1:22-25

I’ve been hungry for words all of my life. Longing for affirmation to know that I was appreciated, I would cling to words that convinced me someone was paying attention to me. I would drown in piles of painful words and float on words of kindness. I was unstable.

I’ve always been drawn to God’s word. Certain verses would hit me hard or soft, depending on the day. But I didn’t have a huge desire or discipline to read it.

I would feel guilt for that. I would make promises and plans and fail. I would soak up teaching from others. But I wasn’t too great at feeding myself.

I began reading the Bible for hours when I became a new mama. Unsure if the words were even sinking in, I kept reading. I remember being ‘lit on fire’ by the enthusiasm of Beth Moore through a few of her studies. I soaked up Christian radio while I cleaned the house and changed diapers. I began to develop a taste for these words David describes as sweeter than honey.

The more I read, the more I couldn’t put this massive book down. The more pages I consumed, the less intimidated I was by the amount of them, and the more captivated I became by the intimacy and love I discovered on each one. The more I listened to God’s voice, the more reliant on Him I became.

I went from a guilty yeah-I-probably-should-read-my-Bible type of gal to an I-can’t-wait-to-see what-He-has-to-say-today kind of follower. I was no longer lit on fire only by the insight of others, I was on fire.

And still am.

“There’s nothing like the written word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG

God’s words have called me into true, abundant life. They’ve stabilized my identity, broadened my understanding, and anchored my hope. They’ve invoked honesty from my soul about my selfish nature and invited me to deeper faith and surrender. They have provided answers to my questions and given me peace when there isn’t any. By God’s grace and through the power of His Spirit, His words compel my feet to move in faith, one baby step at a time.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”

John 10:27

Reading Every Day with God means you are also taking steps to listen to His voice. Keep reading and putting His truth into practice. Jesus is so worthy of your love and devotion!

You’re doing great!

Shelly Eberly

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February 22 – Meet the Team – Taylor Bennington

Read 2 Corinthians 5:7

 My name is Taylor Bennington. I am a law student at The University of Akron School of Law where I have the blessing of being able to serve on our University’s Board of Trustees. I grew up in Wooster where I graduated from Wooster High School in 2015 and went on to pursue my bachelor’s degree in political science at Akron. So, I guess you can say I am a double-Zip!

The Lord brought me to Grace Church eight years ago. I was in a dark, hopeless, period of my life when I entered the doors of Grace, and I remember the Sunday so clearly when Pastor Steve Kern was preaching in the traditional venue. For the first time in my life, the gospel of Jesus had made sense to me. I haven’t looked back since. Over the years I have had the incredible opportunity by the grace of God to engage in ministry at Grace working, interning, and serving in various capacities. Currently, I serve in Grace Students where I co-lead the 12th-grade men’s Grace Group and am also a part of our Sunday morning stage team as a venue host. Suffice to say, Sunday is my favorite day of the week!

During high school, I had the chance to take part in several mission experiences. My first mission trip, however, will forever stand out in my mind. Frankly, I did not want to go. I was still very new in my faith, new to the church, and had only been attending the student services for a few weeks before the deadline to sign up for summer trips. Heck, I didn’t even really understand what a mission trip was or what I would be doing. Yet, God kept making it abundantly clear that this was the next step I needed to take. So, I signed up. The Lord used that mission trip to Chicago in ways that still have an impact on my life today. It’s where I truly learned to surrender. To have faith that the Lord’s plan is better than my own. To believe that the best is really yet to come. And, where the Spirit took my attention towards what would become my favorite verse in the Bible.

“For we live by faith, not by sight.”

2 Corinthians 5:7

I pray that this verse is as much of an encouragement for you today as it has been for me for the greater part of a decade. Despite what the picture might look like in front of you, or if the deck seems to be stacked against you; have faith. Believe in what we cannot see. The goodness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His plans and His perspective are far greater than our own.

Taylor Bennington

 

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February 21 – Meet the Team – Jake Lawson

Read Romans 6:1-23

“…so we too might walk in newness of life.”

Becoming “alive in Christ” was a process for me. It wasn’t one moment but over the span of a year and a half. Having grown up in a Christian home and literally growing up at Grace Church, I knew the basics and fell back into going through the motions. It wasn’t until missions’ trips after my sophomore and junior years of high school to San Francisco that God really got my attention. At that point in my life, there was a lot of junk behind the scenes. Behind the “pastor’s kid” persona was a life that no one saw…I didn’t let them. Behind my knowledge of grace was a false belief that, because I was forgiven, sin could go unchecked in my life.

Over the course of those 2 combined weeks in SF, I stopped the backslide, positioned myself toward Christ and trusted in Him fully with my life, all of me was His. I placed my future in His hands.

In the year that followed, college plans fell through which led me to central Florida for 10 months to intensively study the Bible at the Great Commission Bible Institute. The very first steps of my “newness of life” was taken there in Sebring. There was a Sebring local in our class who quickly became a close friend and confidant. When I was angry and didn’t now how to react, she was there talking me through it. When I was hurting and didn’t know how to deal with the pain, she would lovingly point me back to Christ. When I needed to vent, she would quietly listen and understand.

After school in Florida, I landed a student internship here at Grace which ultimately led me to where I am now (9 years later as of this writing) serving as Next Steps Director. Currently, I oversee our groups and devotional ministries (among other things). As a young boy, I dreamed of one day following in my dad’s footsteps in being a pastor at Grace. I’m so glad that dream lined up with God’s plan for my life!

That Sebring local became my wife in 2016 and a year after, we welcomed our son, Matthew (Mattie) to the world. What an incredible family God has blessed me with : )

When I turned my life around, Romans 6:11 quickly stood out to me. As a follower of Christ, I should be “dead to sin”. The contrast between sin and our life in Christ is so distinct in this chapter and, as you read one of my favorite chapters of the Bible today, I challenge you to take an honest inventory of your life. Is there unchecked sin? Are you abusing grace? What steps do you need to take in order to live in the newness of Christ?

Just as Ultron said, “There are no strings on me” when he busted through the wall in Tony Stark’s tower in Avengers: Age of Ultron,  may verse 14 be our battle cry. Sin doesn’t have control of your life. You have experienced the newness of life through Christ…you are alive through Him!

Jake Lawson

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