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Blog Archives: January 2014 — December 2014

A Word from Our Pastor123114

December 31, 2014
Tag Tuck
Blessed is the man who restarts devotions. I wish someone had told me this before I turned 35, so I’m putting it in this final Word of the Week for all of us as 2015 is about to begin. Blessed are you when after trying 15 times to catch up on your Bible reading plan, when after breaking the promise to yourself and God to pray everyday, and when after trying to read through something that ended up being too long, too weird, or too boring you restarted. When you wake up one morning or realize one evening that you are hungry for something ...

End of the Year Reflection

December 29, 2014
Don Ward
As you detected in my article from Christmas Eve, I am feeling a deep joy at a number of things that God is doing among us.  Let me look back and look ahead a bit. 2014 started with the finishing of the Master Planning Process for Grace Community Church.  That was a time of some turmoil, as there were fears and concerns expressed about where that process might take us.  We have those plans tucked away now for a future time when our building needs are clearer and our consensus together about the future more certain.  The concerns have died ...

The Story of Stephen Ministry

December 26, 2014
Stephen Ministry: where did it all begin? It dates back to 1974 when Ken­neth C. Haugk, a pastor and clinical psychologist, was pastor of St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri. Fresh out of seminary, his strengths and heart were in caregiving ministry, and he was looking forward to making a positive impact on his congregation and community by providing pastoral care to all those experiencing divorce, grief, hospitalization, discouragement, and other life difficulties. Very quickly, though, he found that the needs for care by ...

A Word from Our Pastor

December 23, 2014
Don Ward
Word of the Week: Warmth You may get this word of the week on Christmas Day.  So, let me say “Merry Christmas” to you!  I pray that your time will be blessed and that your family will behave nicely!  I realize it is stressful for many of you! I enjoyed some great fellowship with many of you the last week, having attended some Christmas events for various sub groups in the church - small groups and worship team.  I have experienced a great deal of warm emotions toward you, Grace Community Church.  There have been some blessed and kind ...

Why the Incarnation Never Gets Old

December 22, 2014
Tag Tuck
Why the Incarnation Never Gets Old Why is the incarnation important enough to celebrate each year? How would you answer that if someone asked you? Isn’t the incarnation simply an appendage to the perennial push at year’s end by storeowners and restaurateurs to move their profits into the black? Maybe we should get rid of the incarnation at Christmas and instead move the resurrection to December in its place! We might be tempted to think that the resurrection deserves more attention and hype as a doctrine and so moving the incarnation ...

A Word from Our Pastor

December 16, 2014
Don Ward
Word of the week:  Thanks! Hi Gracians!  I’m really sorry to have missed everybody on Sunday.  I think many of you heard Caron and I were headed up to see her mother.  She has been diagnosed with dementia, which was made much worse by an infection.  She is recovering from that and improving in her capabilities.  There will be some tensions and stresses in the weeks ahead as Caron’s family discerns the best level of care for Caron’s mom.  As far as we know, our dear Phyllis will be with us for some time to come, but conversations won’t be as ...

How to Rest in the Midst of a Busy Season

December 16, 2014
Don Ward
My topic for the week is “how to rest in the midst of a busy season.”  Of course, it could be a really short blog post.  You can’t rest in the midst of a busy season.  Those two things are incompatible.  When you are busy you are not resting, and when you are resting you are not busy. Of course, I’ve never been accused of being too short in either speaking or writing.  I’m not done.  So if holidays are stressful for you because you are too busy, I encourage you to remember that the Lord gave us the pattern, model and commandment to take one ...

Waiting With Hope

December 10, 2014
Tag Tuck
Advent means coming. Each week as a different family lights our advent candles at the beginning of the service they have reminded us that the word advent means coming. As the saints of the Old Testament prepared themselves for a coming Messiah, so we too prepare ourselves for the second coming (theologians refer to it as the parousia) of Christ. How do we do this? One way we do it each year is by remembering the first advent and by celebrating Christmas as Jesus’ birth. When I went through Air Force basic training, sometimes I had to pull ...

A Word from Our Pastor

December 09, 2014
Don Ward
Word of the Week: Sorrows The holiday tune declares, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”  Several things lately have reminded me that the tune may be a bit off key.  I spoke with one of our widows recently, and she let me peek into what Christmas looks like when the person who had so enriched your life is no longer here.  And then, one of our members got notice that a loved one was in serious condition just as church began on Sunday.  In our own family, my mother-in-law was having a health crisis of sorts that was on the forefront ...

Just Get Started!

December 02, 2014
Don Ward
Oftentimes it is at the New Year that we stretch ourselves to start some new healthy habits.  As disciples of Jesus we find ourselves making resolutions and determinations to start some new godly habits.  Sometimes we pledge to put off some habit or practice that we know is harmful and displeasing to our Father. Let me encourage you to take this Advent season to start a new practice of daily Bible readings in your home.  If possible, each day of the Christmas season spend a little time reading God’s Word and reflecting on it.  Let me point ...

A Word from Our Pastor

December 02, 2014
Don Ward
Word of the Week: Stories We were blessed on the Sunday after Thanksgiving to have five new members join our church: Bill and Amanda Freels, Phil and Beth Griffith, and Beamer Carr.  One part of the membership process is to give your Christian testimony to the elders.  At Grace, there are often other members present as you tell this story.  There were some good stories told to the elders in this group. There are no boring testimonies.  If you became a believer very young and grew steadily through life, that is not boring.  How can it be ...

Remembering Thanks

November 25, 2014
Tag Tuck
Most of us know what Lincoln said “four score and seven years” after our country was founded: the Gettysburg Address. But do you know what he said at “four score and eight years”? On October 3, 1863, he gave a proclamation that the last Thursday of the month of November should be set apart as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise. If you wonder to whom Lincoln thought we should render thanks, then read this brief excerpt from the proclamation: No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the ...

A Word from Our Pastor

November 25, 2014
Don Ward
The word of the week is surprises.  This week has had a few of them.  I’m surprised how many GCC families are in grief.  In a few short weeks, Michele Andreson, Shannon Hull, and Win Wood lost their fathers, Ruth Trice and Garry Buttner lost their mothers, and Jim Morton lost his aunt.  Last week was the 10th anniversary of the death of Brad Arms in the second battle of Fallujah. That is a surprising number of families feeling the ache of loss and grief.  God did not make the world with grief, but with joy in mind.  Jesus will come back and ...

A Word from Our Pastor

November 19, 2014
Don Ward
“Come over to Macedonia and help us.”  That’s from the passage in Acts 16 which we will look at in depth this coming Sunday. A few months back a professor from UVA came into my office and asked for help right here in Charlottesville.  His church, Korean Community Church of Charlottesville, is starting an English language service to reach out to the families around them from other nations besides Korea.  That’s where I was on Sunday: preaching for them in their English language service.  Our own Joe Varaksa is also helping with this ef ...

Sharpening

November 19, 2014
Stacey Powdrell
As Don mentioned two weeks ago, a few of us on staff are taking the opportunity to share our favorite Proverbs with you.  I appreciated Don’s blog post as it was a great reminder of the power that our words can have.  Sometimes I say too much and entirely the wrong thing and other times I don’t say enough of the right thing.  I’m incredibly thankful we have a God who is full of grace and forgiveness when our word choice fails us! Now it’s my turn to share two of my favorite verses which both speak of the value and importance of fr ...

A Word from Our Pastor

November 12, 2014
Don Ward
Global/Local: it’s a phrase that covers what we are talking about on Sundays right now.  It’s the realization that we send missionaries to Japan, for example, but there are also Japanese people living near us.  It doesn’t make sense to care about the people over there, and ignore the people right here.  Of course, there are other kinds of people who are without the life of Christ who are all around us.  We need to reach out globally, while also caring for people locally. We were blessed this past Sunday to enjoy a taste of global/local.  ...

Missionary in a Box

November 12, 2014
Candy Rowley
The blog that follows is not about my favorite proverb, but about my favorite ministry instead. I cry every year when I watch the video promoting Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse.  I know what’s coming – I have seen these videos every year for at least the last 8 years - yet I find my eyes welling up each time I see the joy on the faces of children around the world as they receive a shoebox full of gifts. My heart is soft when it comes to children – that’s probably why God sent me into the teaching profession ...

Keeping Confidences

November 11, 2014
Confidentiality, as you may have read or heard before, is a cornerstone of Ste­phen Ministry. What a care receiver says to his or her Stephen Minister is kept in strictest confidence. Even the identity of a care receiver is kept secret (unless the care receiver chooses to tell someone). Confidentiality gives care receivers the reassurance they need so that they can risk revealing to their Stephen Ministers their deepest thoughts and feelings, details they might not be able to discuss with anyone else. It is through the sharing of innermost ...

A Word from Our Pastor

November 03, 2014
Don Ward
Word of the Week: Home Run! I write to you with a full heart after our Missions Emphasis Weekend.  I was so encouraged at the Missions Breakfast to hear the calling of so many people to reach our world for Christ.  They were young and old, and had very varied approaches to the task. Then on Sunday in Foundations, we learned more of the value of ministry to our International guests, particularly university students.  Our new friend Echo shared with us the costs of following Jesus from her culture, and her joy in sharing her faith with ...

Don's Favorite Proverb

November 03, 2014
Don Ward
19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Pro 10:19 NIV) 28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. (Pro 17:28-1 ESV) For the next few weeks, some of us on staff are going to talk about our favorite Proverbs. I hope to go more in depth in the book Proverbs through a sermon series in the fall of 2015.  A famous evangelist in South America, Luis Palau, once spoke of the benefit he received in reading one chapter of Proverbs every day of every ...

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