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Pastor's Corner

Pastor's corner july 15

A couple weeks back, I brought focus to this idea of “naming our hurts” and “forgiving those who hurt us.”  My impetus for sharing came out of Colossians 3,

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Paul’s challenge says it plainly – because we’ve been freely forgiven, pass it along.  Let’s let our gratitude for the goodness we have received have a spillover effect.  Got it.  Makes sense.  Done!

However, this reasoning alone misses the personal benefit of doing so.  We could begrudgingly drag ourselves to this place of obedience and say, “OK, I will do this, because the Bible requires this of me…” and we will have dutifully fulfilled the requirement of the text.  But, it doesn’t set us up in the best way moving forward.

Over the years, I have had to ask for forgiveness often and had to extend it quite a bit as well – probably close to that whole 70x7 deal.  Earlier in my journey, this practice was primarily motivated by obedience.  But, over time, I learned there is a great personal benefit to keeping short relational accounts.  Let me just mention a few,

  • I sleep better at night
  • I can move on with my life
  • I don’t get triggered as often
  • I can accept things at face value
  • I keep good friends
  • I am less bitter and resentful
  • I don’t worry about who I run into
  • I can forgive myself more easily

Significant personal benefits!

However, at Grace, there is one other important reason to consider this.  It’s about our future.  It’s about starting this next season with a clean slate.  Obsessing over past hurts doesn’t allow us to look forward with hope.  Pretending we didn’t get hurt shows up later in frayed relationships.  The best way forward (really!) is to give each other the gift of forgiveness.

So, if there is still work to be done, please don’t let it remain undone.

~Pastor Piet

Previous Pastor Corner Blogs

Morning Devotions are considered...

July 08, 2018
By Pastor Piet Van Waarde

Morning devotions are considered standard fare for the maturing Christian.  But, I was asked an honest question not long ago, “What do you do if you have been a Christian for a while and you have read through the Bible several times, but nothing speaks to you anymore?  I feel guilty for not being more excited about my devotional time.  I love God, but my morning routines are stale.  Am I backsliding?  Am I horrible person?”

Do you ever feel this way?

As we mature in our faith and become more familiar with the stories/teaching of scripture, finding a meaningful way to experience God in the normal routines of life can become more challenging.  So, in this post, I’d like to share a couple things that have been helpful to me.

First and foremost, we must remember why devotions matter.  We don’t want to live with a check-list mentality and more importantly God isn’t measuring our standing with him based on our filling in all the boxes.  That is not how relationships work.  Real relationship is about “walking with him” during our entire day – and morning devotions help jump start that process.  However, they are not meant to be the ultimate measure of our maturity in Christ.

That said, what should one do when those morning routines have become unfulfilling?  At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, I think the most valuable thing we can do is give ourselves permission to think more creatively about it, perhaps by asking the question, “What will draw me closer to God as I begin my day?  Consider:

¨ Listening to worship music

¨ Walking through the catechism

¨ Reading a Christian biography

¨ Choosing a new translation of the Bible

¨ Follow a prescribed reading plan

Starting your day with God is what matters!  How you choose to do so is totally up to you.  Don’t let legalistic prescriptions keep you from experiencing a fulfilling walk with God – who delights in doing life with you.

                                                                                                ~Pastor Piet

 

 

Leadership is Not Easy

July 01, 2018
By Pastor Piet Van Waarde
Pastor's corner july 1

Leadership is not easy. 

Leading in the church is especially challenging. 

Part of what makes it so difficult is that there are so many things to consider.  Issues run deep and wide.  There are many divergent voices and sometimes things can even get contentious.

When it comes to elders and deacons, we are talking about volunteers who have full lives outside the ministry with jobs and families.  Its tough!  But, here at Grace we have had the good fortune of having people who have the character to embrace the responsibility with humility and courage.

July 1, we have three people rotating out of leadership (Dave Meuzelaar, Larry Hanthorn and Bert Van Sant) and three new people signing on (Virg Jansen, Kurt Richardson, and Doug Spurgeon).  I want to extend sincere thanks to these who have faithfully served and give a heart-felt commendation to those to whom the responsibility now falls.

Would you join me in expressing appreciation for Dave’s, Larry’s and Bert’s ministry among us?  They have served us well.  Romans 13:7 admonishes us to give honor to whom honor is due.  Should you want to send a note of appreciation:

Dave Meuzelaar            Larry Hanthorn            Bert Van Sant

45 Brook Circle               1317 E 6th St            715 University St.

On behalf of those serving this next term, let us hold them up in our prayers and choose (in advance) to respect and revere their roles.  We trust that this selection process was Spirit-led, therefore, let our initial inclination be to listen carefully and submit willingly as they operate in their God-given duties among us.

O Lord, thank-you for providing such capable leaders to us – both those who have served with distinction and those who are now willing to surrender themselves to this high-calling.  May those who have served sense the heavenly “well done” and may those who are about to lead be given the wisdom to know your will and the courage to lead out of it.  In the powerful name of Jesus!

~ Pastor Piet

 

 

 

What Does Replenishment Look Like to You?

June 24, 2018
By Pastor Piet Van Waarde

What does replenishment look like for you?

Many of us are about to take off for our summer vacations.  And those who work hard have earned the right to play hard.  We carry significant responsibility and to remain effective, we need times to renew our minds, rest our bodies, and replenish our souls.  We all know this.  But, have you ever had the experience where you go away for a vacation and when you come back, you are more worn-out than when you left?

As odd as this might sound, I believe part of why that happens is because we have never really stopped to ask the question, how do I find replenishment?  We think it should be obvious.  We think just because we are away, we will find it.  Not so much.  So, let me ask it again: Do you know what brings you replenishment?

For some of us, it is about being around people.  It’s about activity.  Its about experiencing new places and people.  For others its about a long hike in the woods, or a great book on the beach.  Do you know what does “it” for you?  If so, do you give yourself permission to get it?

It’s a funny thing about “vacations” – often people fill their vacation time with family obligations.  And I get it, when you have limited time off, and family is far away, you need to take advantage of those times.  I have a large family who are spread out – and we want to see them, even if it means sleeping on a pull-out coach. 

But, please allow me to pay your dumb tax for you.  For all too many years I spent my vacation time visiting family exclusively – and I like my family.  But, over the years, I began to realize that Carol and I needed some of our own time too.  Even just 2-3 days on either side of our family gathering, gave us a chance to find a more personalized means for replenishment.

So, may I implore you (as your pastor and friend), give yourself permission to declare what you need     for replenishment and take it.  You might be amazed at how much more refreshed you are upon your return. 

~Pastor Piet

 

I Remember Sitting a Half-Full Room....

June 17, 2018
By Pastor Piet Van Waarde

I remember sitting in a half-full room of mostly older men, lamenting the fact that we hadn’t seen any new members in our Friday morning Rotary Club for months.  Never mind that it started at 6:45am, and neckties were “heartily” encouraged.

Getting people to “join” anything seems tougher these days.  People are increasingly commitment-adverse.  We even see it around the church. 

Þ Why would I want to join? 

Þ How does church membership change my life for the better? 

Þ What difference does the paper make?

Let me take a shot at addressing some of that. 

To be clear, church membership is not the same as salvation.  Being committed to Christ personally and formally identifying with a local congregation are very different matters.  That said, I believe these two commitments are more closely connected than people typically think. 

One of the scriptures that is often referenced in connection to salvation is Romans 10:9-10 

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Paul is saying that belief and confession have significance.  Most of us understand and appreciate the believing part.  But, there is great power in declaring too.  It makes everything more real when you declare it.  This is why we give our young people an opportunity to make a “declaration” of faith

A similar case can be made for church membership.  We could simply attend Grace Fellowship and experience a series of benefits.  Just like putting our faith in Christ is a really important step.  But, then to declare (out loud) that “Jesus is Lord” completes the process.  Similarly, think about what might get completed inside you, should you move beyond mere Sunday attendance and say “out loud” this is my church home!

Curious?  Want to explore more?

Grace 101

Sunday afternoon June 24

4:30pm at Grace Fellowship

 

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