August 18 – 5 – Believers and the Lost

Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-15

Crop development and home construction are both processes. You aren’t able to place a sweet corn seed in the ground and to instantly husk, boil, butter, salt, and eat a luscious ear of it. No, it takes weeks of development and the addition of heat and water at the right time. Construction, likewise, is not as simple as imagining a concept and being able to instantaneously move in. Instead, different contractors with different areas of expertise typically play key roles in seeing the end product become reality.

The apostle Paul used agriculture and construction metaphors for understanding the spiritual practices of evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. What, then, are the takeaways for us as we consider how God might use us in contributing to the conversion and spiritual development of those in our world? Here are four thoughts:

  • Be faithful…it is a process! Although conversion itself happens at a point in time, a person has often had repeated contact with believers and numerous interactions with biblical truth prior to that. Certainly, there are exceptions, but you and I should, by and large, commit to a process.
  • Be cooperative…it is a team effort! Paul talked about planting while Apollos watered. He laid the foundation while others built upon it. Humbly acknowledge that God wants to use you AND others in seeing people come to faith and discipled as He builds His church. In fact, readily introduce people to other Christ followers in the hope that exactly that will happen.
  • Be dependent…it is the Lord who brings results! Even though people contribute to the development of the harvest, it is ultimately God who makes things grow. It is no wonder that Paul described himself and other Christian laborers as “co-workers in God’s service” and those with whom they worked were “God’s field” and “God’s building.” Express your dependence on Him in prayer.
  • Be accountable…your work will be examined! Paul described different types of construction materials in this passage. He also points out that our work in cooperating with Him in the building of His church will be tested by fire. This should cause us to examine things like faithfulness, methods, and motives. Reach out as those who will give an account.

Faithful, cooperative, dependent, and accountable…those thoughts should impact the way that we seek to win others to faith, assist them in growth, and integrate them into Christ’s church.

Steve Kern

July 30 – Foundation for Life Change

Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-11

The kids had finally done it! They built a Lego Tower from the floor to the ceiling…

and then it happened.

It only took one brief moment, but it was inevitable. The tower went crumbling to the floor. There were no tears, but a good number of laughs and a “Oh man!” but we knew it was going to happen. Do you know why? It’s simple really; the tower did not have a strong foundation. The “foundation” of the Lego Tower was one little Lego and then the hands of the kids and leaders holding it together.

We all know that having a strong foundation is the key for the survival of any structure and it is the key to all of our lives as well. In Grace Kids our “WHY” behind what we do is to create a foundation for life that is based on Jesus Christ. As it says in 1 Corinthians 3: 10-11:

“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Christ is the foundation for our faith, for all of our lives and our goal in Grace Kids to partner with families to build that foundation for life on Jesus. So, when kids go out of 6th grade they understand that God loves them, that he wants a forever friendship with them and they are going to know him more and more!

So, over the next few days you are going to hear how we hope to partner with families to build a foundation for life on Jesus. And we do that by keeping things simple, safe and fun! Be sure to read over the next few days!

I invite you to pray a few things over the course of this series:

  1. That all kids in Wayne County will hear about the love of Jesus and make Him their forever friend
  2. For Grace Kids to find the best ways to support and partner with families
  3. For your next step with kids and families: To pray for them and/or to volunteer

Thank you for partnering with us as we work together to build in kids a foundation for life based on Jesus Christ!

Tim Boucher

July 17 – Leadership – Teamwork

Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and 12:20-25

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”1 Corinthians 9:24

Have you ever noticed that, at a high school or college sporting event, usually the captains of the teams meet and shake hands a few minutes before the game at half court or at mid-field? It is a time for leaders to demonstrate sportsmanship and respect for the game. They briefly discuss the ground rules for the game with the officials and they are reminded that they are the leaders of their team. These leaders were either voted on by their teammates or picked by their coaches. But they should have leadership characteristics such as integrity, self-control, resilience, accountability, humility, positivity and confidence. They need to lead by example and be selfless.

People notice!

Some captains are excellent leaders and some captains are not. Leadership skills are not common, but they can be developed and taught. Picking the leaders is a key to success for any team.

To live and lead on the team that loves Jesus Christ is a war. It is a battle of good (Christ) – such as loving and serving others, compassion and patience – versus evil (Satan) – such as selfishness, greed, human trafficking and abortion. Every single person has spiritual gifts that are indispensable (1Cor 12:22) in the battle. Every little example you set and every word you say is crucial. If everybody on the team is doing their part, then you have a team that is difficult to defeat. If you have selfless, patient leaders, it can make a big difference. What are the priorities in your life?

Consider this priority: “He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30

Look at the words of Jesus Christ:

“This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.”Matthew 12:30 MSG

To succeed, we need to know the word of God. “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Cor 9:24b. This verse is about how we live our lives.

Let’s live as leaders with integrity, self-control and resilience.

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”1 Corinthians 9:25

An athlete is in strict training for a blue ribbon or gold medal. The Christian is in strict training for the crown of eternal life in heaven with Christ.

We need teamwork and leaders in this fight against evil. Be alert and in top condition. Know the Bible. Use God’s weapons such as kindness, gentleness and self-control. Use your spiritual gifts to get the prize!

Tom Weckesser

July 14 – Leadership – Invite

Read 1 Corinthians 11:1

A few years ago, my husband, Jon, and I were asked to be co-adult leaders for a team of teens on a short-term mission trip to southern California to put on a Bible School for a small Hispanic church. 

Team members were from churches all over the country and none of us had met before meeting at the Columbus airport.  Many of the team members had grown up in their individual churches and even served in some capacity but hadn’t stepped out of that bubble.

In preparation, each team member was given a copy of the book, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg.  It basically said, if you want big things to happen in your spiritual life like what happened to Peter in Matthew 14, you need to move out of your comfort zone and take risks.

Out of our comfort zones we went!  Scary? Yes! But one foot at a time we climbed out of the boat, expecting to stay afloat as long as we kept our eyes on Christ and the mission He asked us to do.

We had tons of hurdles we had to not only face but jump over. There was a hurdle of getting to know each other, plus the language and cultural barriers once we met the kids we would be teaching.

Week one was dedicated to team building and getting a taste of the culture of the kids of the church. The second week was actually teaching Bible school lessons.  This, believe it or not, was a relief because, even though we were from a wide variety of backgrounds, we had one thing in common – our love of the gospel!  With God’s help, we survived and everyone, including us leaders, grew both in empathy for others and our own spirituality.  None of that would have happened if we hadn’t all been willing to get out of the “Boat”, trust God and lead others to Christ.

We are all leaders in some capacity, be it at work, in the home, or with friends and family members.  People are watching you, whether you know it or not, especially if they know you are a Christian. They are looking to you for guidance in this crazy world of ours. How can you invite them into leadership to learn from you and also from Christ?

Are you telling people, as Paul said in our reading today, “Follow my example, as I follow Christ”? If not, who can you take under your wing and teach them to lead?

After all, their first step is simply to “Get out of the boat”!

Pat Arnold

May 22 – What Does the Bible Say About Unity?

Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

What does the Bible say about unity?

Paul’s words in verse 10 give a clear answer:

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. (1 Cor. 1:10)

Within the local church, descriptors like “agree with one another,” “no divisions,” and “perfectly united” are to characterize relationships. Still, if you take a tour of the first-century church experiences, you will discover many areas of dissension. Let’s outline just a few of those.

Leadership loyalties (1 Cor. 1:10-17) – The church in Corinth had groups of people orienting themselves according to their loyalty to different leaders. This created tension!

Spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12-14) – Some seemed to be prideful about the specific gift they had. Others were jealous, wishing they had more public gifts.

Ethnic backgrounds (Acts 6:1-7) – Ladies in the Jerusalem church with a Greek background were being overlooked in a ministry to widows.

Doctrinal differences (Acts 15) – To add to the ethnic challenges, Jewish believers expected Gentile believers to keep the Law and express faith in Jesus. This was a source of great tension through the first decades of church life.

Of course, those are just a sampling of the realities that threatened the unity in the church in the generation after Christ’s ascension. While we see some of those paralleled today, we also have our own challenges that create division whether they include musical preferences or the proverbial color of the carpet! Are there principles spanning the generations that address the disunity and lead to unity? Here are a few:

  1. Humbly consider others as more important than yourself (Phil. 2:1-11)! Disunity often stems from a “me focus.”
  2. Readily utilize the gift you have for the benefit of others (1 Cor. 12)! The body of Christ needs every member.
  3. Engage in the mission and ministry of the local church (Eph. 4:11-16)! Spectators make good critics, but getting in the game can make a big difference.
  4. Allow church leaders to grapple with the tension (Acts 6:1-7; 15)! As you do so, prayerfully support them.

Pursue unity to God’s glory!

Steve Kern

December 26 – Word Became Flesh – Just a Season?

Read 1 Corinthians 16:14

“Let all that you do be done in love”

Easy enough, right?

You may have heard this from me before, whether in a blog from past seasons or in conversation, but October to December is my favorite time of year. As the seasons shift, it seems so do the attitudes of people.

Why is that, do you think?

Could it be the clean crisp air around us, causing us to feel new or knowing that newness is close with a new beginning to a new year on its way? Could it be because we all love the holiday season for different reasons?

For me, October to December represents all of the above. In October, I get to thank the Lord for this life that He has gifted me as my birthday approaches in the month. November is a time of reflecting on gratitude. November reminds me to shift my perspective back to what really matters and be grateful for all that has happened in the seasons past and seasons to come.

Then December.

I am the girl who goes full out for Christmas. I put my tree up the day after Thanksgiving, I play Christmas music as often as possible. Driving around looking at Christmas lights brings happiness to my heart. Buying gifts for those I care about and love brings me so much joy. It is that time of year where joy, cheer and happiness seem to be widespread and I love it.

But why must we remember to spread love, joy, happiness and gratitude just one season a year? Hasn’t Jesus called us to be the light fully? Hasn’t He called us to love daily?

Joy and love should be year-round not just a month or so at the end of the year.

So how do we change this? How do we plan to start fresh daily? To see people as Jesus sees them, daily . . .year-round?

Let us challenge ourselves to be THE love that Christ has called us to be, even after Christmas morning.

Christ is the word. God’s message to mankind. So, when we think of how to continue on, why not look at the life of Jesus and the call He gave to us? As you approach Christmas, as you approach a new year, be Jesus. Represent the word and walk in the light and be the light to those around us.

It is easier said than done, but it is possible! You know why? Because you have the Word living inside of you. Not only challenging you to be who you were intended to be, but helping and guiding you to bring joy and love to those around.

Jesus changes it all.

The word became flesh.

An example to follow.

Kelly Lawson

October 28 – The 2020 Election – True Unity

Day 4: True Unity

“Don’t let an elephant or a donkey rip apart what the Lamb brought together.” – Derwin Gray

The church is more than a service to attend; it’s a family to belong to.  The family of God is a diverse family that includes differing political perspectives.  As a pastor, I have been saddened to see how politics and tribalism in this nation have ripped apart the unity of the church.  The only word for that is sin.  What unites the church is the person of Jesus and He’s a lot bigger than one person, one nation, and one election.  The mission of Jesus is what unites the church.

Scripture: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10

What preference can I set down for the sake of a greater eternal purpose?

Prayer:  God, I praise you for the unity and diversity of the church.  God, allow me to do my part to protect our unity in mission and celebrate our diversity in opinion.  May I love others so those outside of faith will see You shining through.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Nick Cleveland

September 26 – Heaven FAQ’s – Is Heaven really unimaginable?

Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-10

Sing, imagine, and focus on heaven!

In 1993, I attended the first large Promise Keepers conference in the stunningly beautiful setting of Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado. There were 50,000 men in attendance. Sitting in the upper deck with two friends, the music and the messages were very uplifting. I learned more about being a Christian man and being a leader of my family. We sang AMAZING GRACE which was memorable with all the male voices. Written by John Newton, the fifth verse – which is about Heaven – was joyful to sing:

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we’d first begun.”

We were singing about Heaven with men from all over the country who were called to be better men, better dads and better servants in churches through Jesus Christ.

While singing songs like Amazing Grace and reading scripture, I find the peace of God and hope for the future. Jesus said in John 14:2:

“I am going there to prepare a place for you.”

Can you imagine Heaven? Bart Mallard recalls standing by the grave site of his father (Bub) with his grandmother, who turned and whispered, “I can only imagine what Bub’s seeing right now.” That idea lodged itself in Bart’s mind. To envision his father in the presence of Jesus became his chief source of hope. And later Bart and Mercy Me sang I CAN ONLY IMAGINE (1999).

“I can only imagine

When that day comes

And I find myself

Standing in the son.

I can only imagine

When all I will do

Is forever, forever worship you

I can only imagine

I can only imagine.”

Is your heart focused on heaven?

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)

Is your mind focused on Heaven?

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)

We can sing Christian songs, imagine Heaven and focus on some characteristics of Jesus such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience! (Colossians 3:12).

“Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling

Calling for you and for me

See on the portals, He’s waiting and watching

Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,

Ye who are weary, come home,

Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,

Calling, “Oh, sinner, come home.”

(Will L. Thompson, 1880).

Focus your life to come home.

Tom Weckesser

September 20 – Heaven FAQ’s – What will happen to my body?

Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

We’ve all done it at one time or another…maybe even every day. We’ve all stood in front of a mirror and noticed everything that seems wrong, off, or imperfect about our bodies. Perhaps it’s the size or shape of a facial feature. Perhaps it’s a mole or something about your hair. Or maybe it’s a nasty scar that will never go away; an ugly reminder of a painful injury from the past.

When Scripture talks about our resurrected, eternal bodies in 1 Cor. 15, we see words like “glory”, “imperishable”, “power”, and “spiritual”. Those probably aren’t words that come to mind when you’re standing in front of that mirror. It would be easy to assume that when God resurrects our bodies, that he would just do away with all of those imperfections that we see. In fact, it would probably just be better if he just ditched this body altogether and replaced it with something that resembled the body of a superhero! Surely a resurrection body looks more like Superman than what I see in the mirror.

The problem is, that’s not how God looks at us or our bodies at all! In fact, God values the body you see when you stand in front of that mirror! It’s important to Him because He made it! 1 Corinthians 15 gives us clues into what our resurrection body will be like. Verse 21 refers to Christ as the “first fruits of those who have fallen asleep”. Then verse 49 says “so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” The resurrections that happen after Jesus will be similar to his own. His resurrection is the blueprint for all future resurrections and his resurrected body is the perfect prototype! Here’s what we know for sure about Christ’s resurrected body:

  1. It was HIS actual, physical body (Matt 28:1-15)
  2. He was recognizable (John 20:20)
  3. He ate and drank (Luke 24:30-33)
  4. He had SCARS! (John 20:25-29)

When Jesus conquered death in glory, he took his body with him! The tomb was empty! He appeared to his disciples in the flesh, scars and all! For Jesus, glorification didn’t mean trading his body for Superman’s! It was still his body (every last particle) but it was immortal, powerful, and completely holy! All of the particles that make up your body matter to God too! Guess what? In heaven you’ll probably still have those “imperfections” you see in the mirror now, but you won’t be disappointed at all. You’ll finally see what God sees now—his child who he loves with his whole heart…for all eternity!

Ps – I’ve always thought that I should be cremated when I die. I want my ashes scattered far and wide so that when Jesus resurrects my “body”, all of the particles will fly through the air every which way and come together in the sky!

Particles matter!

Matt Carter

September 17 – Heaven FAQ’s – Of what importance are the things I do on earth?

Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-23

Fires capture our attention!  Ever since I was a little kid, I have been mesmerized by the way the flames dance and do their work.  Growing up as a farm kid, we were always burning something and I was intrigued by what I would find in the ashes the next day… nails, a bottle, maybe some wire.  It made me wonder why certain things burned up and others made it through the flames. This puzzle caused me to throw more things into a fire to see what happens (note to my 9-year-old self – don’t place that aerosol can in the burning barrel on laundry day… it was amazing how far the ashes were strewn onto the white bed sheets drying on the line when the can exploded…. sorry, mom).

Paul uses the idea of fire as he teaches about the bema seat judgement – the judgement reserved for believers after this life is over. This judgement is referred to as the bema seat because of Paul’s reference in passages like 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 when he likened our work in this life to the Greek games where the winner was taken to a platform (called the bema) and received the prize for his accomplishments in the games.

It is important to understand that the bema seat judgement is not about our salvation.  We read in 1 Cor 3:15 that the builder whose work is destroyed will suffer loss but yet will be saved only as one escaping through the flames.  Paul is saying this person won’t have any reward from this judgement but by God’s grace will spend eternity with Jesus.

So how does this judgement work? As we read in 1 Cor 3:12-15, our work will be tested by fire and whatever good we have done will not only pass the test but bring about a reward.  I love how Paul uses the 6 building materials to illustrate our work… ranging from gold to straw.  We know how these materials fare when placed in a fire… the first three come out unscathed, the last trio not so much.  In the same way, our works in this life undergo God’s scrutiny.  Some of our labor will be rewarded while others won’t pass the test.  So often I think I am doing something amazing for God only to realize my motives were not stellar as I wanted people to see what I did… poof, just like a handful of straw thrown into a campfire. Other times, with pure motives I used the gifts God gave me, stepped out in faith and obeyed… that’s silver and gold!  This picture makes us think about what we do and our motivations that drive us as we serve.  Let’s use our gifting to make a difference in the world around us today… and, if given the chance, be very careful what you throw into the burning barrel on laundry day.

Randy Moomaw