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Blog

January 2019
January 2019
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“One aspect of [our culture’s atmosphere] that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by thirty-page abridgments.”

It’s hard to believe that the late Presbyterian pastor Eugene Peterson penned these telling words ...


January 2019
January 2019
By

Word of the Week: Feelings

One of the most common questions Caron and I are getting lately is, “How are you feeling?” Or, “How are you doing?” Twenty-one years of ministry at Grace Community Church is coming to an end, and a new venture will begin in February…it’s an obvious question. Strangely enough, several members of our church are changing careers or jobs at the same time!

Honestly, it’s difficult to describe. It’s not bittersweet because I’m not experiencing any bitterness internally ...


January 2019
January 2019
By

Moving is a daunting task under even the best conditions. There are so many boxes to move. Nobody seems to remember how the sofa got through the door the first time, but it wasn’t one of the seven different ways you just tried. Books are a wonderful thing…until you have to carry boxes of them up and down a flight of stairs. I’ve never met someone who enjoys moving, but it’s infinitely better with extra hands. Whether it’s professionals you hire or friends you bribe with pizza, moving is ...


January 2019
January 2019
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We were meeting as a staff this morning and several of us admitted we had been a tad confused about the day of the week. There were holidays stuck in the middle of weeks, and some days were feeling like Friday when it was actually Tuesday. You know what I’m talking about, right? During the holidays you are waking up and trying to remember if it was Saturday, or Sunday or some other day. I promised our staff that I would make the word “confusion” the word of the week.

There are other ways we ...


December 2018
December 2018
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By this point, the gifts have been opened. That turkey or ham has been carved and the leftovers are packed up in the fridge. The Christmas decorations are still up and Christmas music is playing, but only for a few more days. Soon January 1 will come and, while we might not rush to take the tree down, we all know it’s only a matter of time. Christmas is behind us; the New Year is before us.

Dear Christian, don’t move on too quickly! We don’t pack up the incarnation with the decorations....


December 2018
December 2018
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“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” Luke 1:26–28 (ESV)

For many of us who have grown up in the church, the phrase “the virgin birth of Christ” is familiar to our ears. You’ve probably heard scores of sermons on the birth of Christ. And you’ve seen ...


December 2018
December 2018
By

Word of the week: Community

Last night I was at one of the ever-present Christmas parties this time of year. This one was a different, as there were only six of us plus some young people. At one point several of the people found themselves on the couch. They hadn’t connected in a while, and soon they were deep in conversation. They were so deep in conversation that I couldn’t peel one of them away to leave. They weren’t talking about their favorite Christmas tradition, the latest in ...


December 2018
December 2018
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Why did Jesus have to be born?

The short answer is that Jesus had to die, and then be raised from the dead. Of course, the answer is more nuanced and complicated than that, but I don’t think my first statement is too far from the truth.  Let me give you a few things to think about in answer to the question. To hear a sermon about the remarkable conception of Jesus of Nazareth, and why that is important, please click the link to this past Sunday’s sermon.

Jesus was born to die so that God’s ...


December 2018
December 2018
By

Word of the Week: Community

Whew! We got worship in on Sunday just under the wire before the snowfall really started coming. Here is an odd thing you might not think about: It’s a hard decision to cancel church. If we had cancelled Sunday, I would have been kicking himself if I’d been at home at 9:30 and there was no snow coming down. I give a big shout out to deacon of the day, Paul Parmiter, for helping to make the decision and staying at the church until everyone left.

We were able to ...


December 2018
December 2018
By

If you crack open your Bible, you’ll notice a myriad of holidays and festivals. This is especially true if you turn to the Old Testament. But if you keep going, you’ll notice less and less of them as you approach of the New Testament. Even most of these are references to Jewish holidays that were still being celebrated, such as Pentecost rather than descriptions of holidays that Christians would go on to celebrate. One thing’s for sure – you won’t find any mention of our Christmas ...


December 2018
December 2018
By

My New Calling

At the end of our trip to Malawi, Africa in July 2018, Duncan Nyozani, the Malawi Team leader, asked me a pointed question: “So Don, are you God’s man for Malawi?” At the time I told him I didn’t know the answer to that, but I expressed my desire to ensure that capable pastors return annually to train leaders in Malawi.

My sense was that in a few years I would leave Grace to work full time with Equipping Leaders International. However, several moments this fall changed my time ...


November 2018
November 2018
By

When you look back at the story of your life, what particular things have stood out to you the most?

Perhaps you can recall particular events that have shaped who you are as a person. How about employments that have strengthened you and allowed you to use the gifts and talents God has given you? Or loved ones who have been with you for the long haul, or those who have come and gone?

Perhaps you can recall broken relationships that seemed to be beyond repair. What was once healthy had, in ...


November 2018
November 2018
By

Word of the week: Wonder

Do you remember the last time you had a sense of wonder? Can you think of the last time that something really amazed you? Perhaps someone in your family has a new baby and you held the child over Thanksgiving. Or this year you traveled to some amazing place and paused to be amazed at the sights and sounds. Wonder and amazement bring joy to us and enhance the sense that the world has beauty and order beyond easy explanation.

I remember my childhood Christmas ...


November 2018
November 2018
By

Usually I don’t answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number, but this time I did. It was a deacon at a small Baptist church not too far away from where I lived. They were currently without a pastor and looking for someone to fill the pulpit for an upcoming Sunday. Was I interested in doing the service for them? I was still in seminary and it was only the second time I had been invited to preach a service anywhere before – of course I was interested in doing the service!

When I got ...


November 2018
November 2018
By

Word of the Week: Wonderful

Some things are just wonderful to see. When you are going through some sorrows (as our family is), sometimes something beautiful and wonderful is just the medicine for the soul which God prescribes. Last Sunday we watched Steve Hohenberger baptize his little grandson. Many of their family was there for this special occasion. That in and of itself is beautiful, as we recognize God’s grace to this family and his covenant promises to all generations. But this was a ...