GraceConnect E-News, No. 85, Week of February 2, 2015

Communication-Conversation-Conservation

The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches

Circles of Grace

“We love because He first loved us. Because He first loved us, we love.”
 
According to Bob Foote (pastor at
Grace Community Church, a Grace Brethren church in Huber Heights, Ohio), that’s the motive behind the church’s new spiritual life emphasis, Love Acts. And to the members of GCC, it’s become more than just a Sunday morning sermon series. Here’s how it works:
 
Each fall, GCC does a church-wide spiritual life emphasis. In 2013, the members simultaneously read selections from Bob Goff’s Love Does and from the book of Acts, while keeping a journal of thoughts, themes, and action items. Each week they aimed to include either something new done for the love of it, or something they’ve already been doing but now with a renewal of love as the motive.
 
The first opportunity for GCC to serve in love came one Friday morning that November.
 
Randy and Joyce Farnum first attended GCC because a neighbor invited them to GCC’s Christmas-themed desert theater. Then in the summer, Randy suffered a massive heart attack which ended his working career and left him with immense medical bills. Months later their roof started leaking directly into their living room. The repair cost seemed impossible to handle.
 
As part of “Love Acts,” small groups raised much of the needed money to supplement what the Farnum’s had saved up. Then the “love crew” went to work stripping two layers of shingles. By the end of the weekend the new roof was on, in time for that Tuesday’s downpour.
 
“Blessed but wanting to give back,” explained Pastor Bob, “Randy and Joyce asked repeatedly for any opportunity to help others.”
 
Later that week a 6:30 a.m. phone call woke Josh Nelson, GCC’s associate pastor, with some bad news. “Our youth group heading off to a retreat that afternoon would now be missing essential adult help due to sudden illness. Who could we call to drop everything to spend the weekend with our students and get no sleep?”
 
Richie Witmer had just gotten back from a month of military training. “I knew there was a need for leaders to step up,” his wife Kari said, “but I figured someone would.” Still, she wanted to help. “Josh called me Friday morning and said there was now a dire need for two youth leaders to go (a guy and a girl), or they would have to cancel the trip.
 
“By mid-morning Richie and Kari called,” said Pastor Bob. “They had prayed Thursday night, asking God to use them. Friday they asked to join the youth retreat at the last minute, but they would need some help with their two energetic young boys (Aiden, then 5, and Jeremy, then 2).” After calling and emailing all their friends and family with no success, Kari handed things over to God. And He stepped in.
 
“Then, Josh called again. He said the Farnum’s would love to watch my kids this weekend! So as we talked over the boys’ schedule, they said ‘We have passes for the Columbus Zoo, so we are going to take them to the zoo on Saturday!’ I wanted to cry. To me, that was just above and beyond.”
 
GCC was able to love the Farnum’s, and in return the Farnum’s were able to love Kari and Ritchie and their boys. Then, Kari and Ritchie were able to love the youth at GCC.
 
“I am so overwhelmed by the goodness of God. He made a way, when we didn’t think there was one,” said Kari.
 
“In the end, God came through, and He used his people to do so,” said Pastor Bob. -- by Julia Marsh


[Send a letter of encouragement to Pastor Bob at pastor@hhgcc.org.]

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[Your Turn]


[Read:] 

Check out the recently launched blog of Flinch, the 2015 national conference of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. Last week's post by Tim Park was a refreshing reminder how to risk failure: 

"We are called as followers of Jesus Christ to walk in a journey that is jam-packed with risks. We are not called to a safe life. There is nothing safe about our relationship with Jesus. At some point we all flinch.

But here’s the good news. We have a promise from our Heavenly Father that He will never leave us or forsake us...When we fail, the Lord doesn't want us to sweep it aside and pretend it didn't happen. We are called to messy grace."

Read the rest of the post here

[Pray:]

Pastor Jim Brown of
Grace Community Church in Goshen, Ind., relates a touching story about a group of ragtag children during a recent trip to Iraq. Click here to read the story, and don't forget to pray for the initiative, Grace4Iraq, started by the Goshen church, which is currently raising money for housing for dozens of displaced Iraqi refugees. (Read more about the initiative here.) 

[(Worship) Leaders's Corner] 

Have you ever been to a church or hymn sing where the worshipers knew how to sing parts? You know -- the old fashioned soprano, alto, tenor, bass? Or even A Capella? If you have, you'll probably remember it as a uniquely refreshing time of worship.

This post by Don Shoemaker, pastor emeritus at Grace Community Church of Seal Beach, Calif., gives some encouraging guidance for worship leaders:

"Give worship back to the congregation."  he advises. "Make the congregation active participants in worship 'with heart and soul and voices'...Worship can be high quality without being so orchestrated." 

Read the rest of the post by
clicking here

Events in the FGBC

March 16-18 – South Focus Retreat, Florida FFA Training Center, Haines City, Fla. (FGBC)
March 20-21 – WLS Class: Women and Scripture, Frederick, Md. (WGUSA) 
April 24-25 – WLS Class: Women and Scripture, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (WGUSA) 
June 21-27, 2015  Great Canadian Adventure, Toronto, Ontario (GBC)
June 21-27, 2015 – Encounter Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga. (EWP)
July 14-19, 2015 – Momentum Youth Conference, Marion, Ind. (CEN) 
July 23-26, 2015 – Flinch Conference (national conference), Newark, N.J. (FGBC) 

CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC – Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
GBC – Grace Brethren Canada
WGUSA – Women of Grace USA

Send events for the calendar to lcgates@bmhbooks.com.
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