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August 2017
August 2017
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I don’t have a green thumb. I don’t have the patience to grow something like a garden. However, it’s amazing what can come from the hands of a skilled gardener. A lush garden starts with tiny seeds. Even the giant redwood trees began their majestic life as humble seeds. Given time and nurture, small things can grow large.

Just as redwoods start as seeds, so do churches. This summer Fleming Straughan went to Ireland for the Dublin Irish Prayer Summit and he described the church in Ireland to ...


August 2017
August 2017
Coffee and plate WotW
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Word of the Week: Listen

To use an old-fashioned newspaper term, Charlottesville was “above the fold” on almost every newspaper in America after Saturday, August 12th and the violence here. That means we were on the front page, and on the part you see first…the first story. None of us wanted that. One Grace member worked with the local woman who was killed. We deplore the violence and racial hatred.

What next:  Let’s do some listening. Let’s not assume all the problem is those nasty ...


August 2017
August 2017
Bibles in Malawi
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I am so very thankful to God for the remarkable time that Chuck McArthur and I had in Malawi. God moved in ways that exceeded my expectations. Chuck is the director of Equipping Leaders International - a mission agency that focuses on equipping leaders in the developing world with a series of tools which they can use to train others.

Malawi: This country of 17 million in East Africa is a developing country with notable poverty. It depends heavily on agriculture and often struggles through ...


August 2017
August 2017
Coffee and plate WotW
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Word of the Week: COUNTDOWN!

The buzz around the church office these days reminds me of my days as a NASA brat. Dad was always working on launching something.  Most of the times it was rockets to faraway places - once it was a state of the art wind tunnel. That meant tons of work and planning and preparation for a very exciting moment. That moment lead to other exciting things - science from the moon and Mars. Feels like blast off is coming. The fall is going to be HUGE…there are chili ...


August 2017
August 2017
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Summer’s a time for drinking water. It’s hot outside and at a certain point there’s only so much you can do to cool off. Earlier this summer I went kayaking with a friend and I forgot to load my water bottle on the boat with me before we set out from the shore. So, there I was – out in the heat and exposed to the sun for hours. The lake taunted me in my thirst by surrounding me with water I could touch but couldn’t drink. When we got back to the cars, my water bottle was waiting for me and ...


August 2017
August 2017
Coffee and plate WotW
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Word of the Week: Assumptions

On Saturday night, I got on my phone and sent a message to a friend. Within ten minutes, I saw the word “Read” followed by a time in the bottom corner. But after ten minutes there was no response. On Sunday morning, there was no response. On Monday morning, there was still no response. So, at this point I began to wonder, “Did I say something wrong? Is my friend avoiding me?”

When my message was met with silence, I quickly assumed the worst, so I sent a follow ...


July 2017
July 2017
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Do you know the difference between hospitality and entertaining? I know I often use these words as synonyms for each other. I have started to wonder what the difference is as we have learned more about what it means to be hospitable through our latest series of blog posts. Let’s take a closer look together at the difference between these words. Thefreedictionary.com defines these words like this:

Entertain: To hold the attention of with something amusing or diverting
Hospitality: Cordial ...


July 2017
July 2017
Coffee and plate WotW
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Word of the Week: Courage

Yesterday I had the chance to go to King’s Dominion with the youth group. It’s not often I get to spend time with the teenagers in our church and it was wonderful! We have some incredible teens here and I praise God for them.

One of the things that moved me the most was riding roller coasters with two of the middle school boys. They were so nervous. Who isn’t the first time you ride a big roller coaster? And yet, even in the face of their fear, they got on one after ...


July 2017
July 2017
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No Trespassing. Private Property. Do Not Enter.

Have you seen these signs? You’ll find them nailed to a tree at the start of a long driveway. You’ll see them hanging from chain-link fences. They all communicate one message loud and clear: you’re not welcome here.

But signs like this aren’t the only way that we sense we aren’t welcome. When we approach a group and the conversation abruptly stops, we know we aren’t welcome. When we take a seat and people move away, we know we aren’t welcome....


July 2017
July 2017
Coffee and plate WotW
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Word of the Week: Provision

We prayed for two of our own on Sunday as they went off to be ambassadors for the kingdom, as they go and carry the message of reconciliation to far away lands. One of the things that has been so amazing to me about these trips is how God has provided above and beyond what we could have expected. In both cases, God provided more funding than necessary.

Yesterday Pastor Don left for Malawi. Did you know most pastors in Malawi don’t have a Bible in their native ...


July 2017
July 2017
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We were created for relationships. The only thing about creation that God said was “not good” was that Adam had no other humans around him - he was alone. Even after sin and brokenness came into the world, relationships have always been critical.

God began early on to create relationships not just with an individual, but with a family - the people that would become Israel. He made them for relationship with Himself and with one another. His law, in large part, governed their relationships....


July 2017
July 2017
Coffee and plate WotW
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Word of the Week: Fun

Sometimes churches just have fun together. Saturday afternoon we had a blast. It was warm in every way: fun, relaxing and joyous. It just felt like a big family reunion. Did it change the world in some way?  Hey, don’t count God out - in the midst of cornhole, volleyball and shooting the breeze, we added one member to the Japan missions team! The main purpose was accomplished - we enjoyed the gift God gave us of one another. Young and old, athlete and couch potato, we ...


July 2017
July 2017
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How did you spend your Fourth of July? Maybe you spent it by the grill as you and your family savored that delicious smell of burgers only minutes away from your plate. Perhaps you spent it around the pool with friends, enjoying the sun on that one day where you don’t have to be anywhere. Or maybe you sat in your lawn chair, lounging out with your neighbors as you watched the fireworks color the night’s sky.

I spent the holiday at a friend’s house, playing board games and eating pizza. It was ...


July 2017
July 2017
Coffee and plate WotW
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Word of the week: Slacker

Nobody wants to be a slacker. A slacker is lazy and unproductive. Do you find sometimes in the summer you are a slacker spiritually? Vacation is hard for me in this regard. On my recent vacation, I found myself slacking off a bit! I didn’t care for my soul as I could have. I was sporadic in my devotions and prayer, but demonstrated faithfulness in fun and relaxation. God still loves me, I’m still a son by faith, I’m still righteous. But I got out of my routines of ...


June 2017
June 2017
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Hello Grace Family,

My name is Sean Smith and I am the new youth director at Grace! This blog is for you to get to know me a little bit better. I am the oldest of three. I have a sister who is twenty-two and a brother who is nineteen. We were raised by an amazing, single mother who always pointed us to Jesus, which was huge blessing. I love my family! I played college basketball, so that is one of my main hobbies. Count me in for anything that involves sports and being active! God has gifted ...