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grace question of the week gradiated cop

February 21, 2021

10:15am I Facebook Live

Are you smelling what I’m selling?

Question of the Week

Smell is one of our most powerful senses. In our text this week, we come across a line that could be translated “and his smelling is in the fear of the Lord.” often rendered as “his delight in the fear of the Lord”. So here is our question to ponder this week; what do you want your life to “smell” like?



If ever we needed Easter, it’s this year. A time to focus on the resurrection of Jesus and all that means for this broken and longing world. In what seems like and never ending winter, we long for Spring.

It also might feel like the last thing we need is Lent. Who wants to focus any more on the darkness than we have to? Don’t we have enough of that already? Isn’t there enough “bad news” swirling all around us now?

The short answer is - no. It’s one thing to be “surrounded” by bad news, it’s another thing to face it, to own our part, to confess our complicity and to actively practice repentance. This is the only way to truly prepare for Easter, this is the only way to truly deal with the brokenness in a way that leads to healing.

Lent reminds us:

We aren’t going to “inform” our way out of this one.

We aren’t going to “perform” our way out.

We aren’t going to “reform” our way out.

The Big Idea: Our ability to imagine God’s redemptive work among us guides much of our response to our current situation


Take Away: We must give serious time and attention to developing an Active Gospel Imagination if we are to freely live into the redemptive work of God.

How does this fit with "Belong, Become, Believe"? 

It’s easy to pick and choose who is in and who is out, who is worthy and who is a lost cause, based on our own understanding and imagination. God defies all that though. As God redefines the worth of every human by welcoming them into fellowship, so we must practice the same. This act of imaginative hospitality in turn forms us and our own imaginations more into alignment with God’s. From this emerges our confession and our faith.

Relevant Verses:

Isaiah 11-12




Grace Church God has come into your catastrophe and has overcome it, remade it. Go now with eyes to see, ears to hear, minds to discern, hearts to love and senses to smell the new creation that is being made by God the Creator, Jesus the Messiah and God the Holy Spirit. Amen.


February 14, 2021

10:15am I Facebook Live

Learning from the Remnant

Question of the Week

How have your experiences shaped your understanding of the relationship between judgment and hope?


The David Crowder Band’s Song ‘God of Wrath’ was always one I wanted to skip when listening to his CDs. A friend asked me about it one day and I told him it was because I preferred thinking about the more positive attributes of God. The reality, though, is twofold: All of God’s attributes are positive, and what I really didn’t want to think about was what in my nature warranted God’s wrath.

Reconciliation brings shalom and wholeness. But have we misinterpreted communal shalom and wholeness as a promise of personal wellbeing? Have we missed the point that this story was for and about a community


God’s judgment of Israel wasn’t him sitting in the sky pulling levers each time they did something wrong, it was him saying this isn’t the right way or the best way—it’s Him seeking restoration. It was Him grieving over the choices they were making and the natural consequences they brought forth.

Grace and Peace,

Laura Holland

The Big Idea: There is hope in judgment. Judgment is calling us to be restored, toward shalom, and to reconcile with God and others.


Take Away: Pride and arrogance lead to chaos, separation, and stripped away boundaries. But when we realign our trust and reconcile with God and others, we can move toward shalom and wholeness for everyone.

How does this fit with "Belong, Become, Believe"? 

Part of belonging is realizing we belong to each other, too. We’re called to a community of believers, into the family of God, and we need to seek communal reconciliation and wholeness.

Worship Music

Kids Focus

Last Sunday, our guest speaker Pastor Ruben Nuño spoke about Isaiah chapter 9, verses 1-7. These verses reflected how God shows us Light coming from the Darkness and about how the scripture prophesies that Jesus will come to bring peace to earth and He will end wars and conflict. In this current time, it can sometimes feel like that prophecy doesn't exist. In America, we are working toward unity, but even that seems to bring conflict.

So what do we do? We need to lean on the tenants of Jesus. Pastor Ruben spoke about how Jesus spent his ministry with the downtrodden, oppressed, people from out of the "margins". He spent his time in ministry showing love to those who were ignored or pushed aside. He didn't focus on the rich and powerful but poor and meek. 

This week for the kids message, we recommend having an honest discussion with your children to talk to them about what kinds of conflict they see and things they can do when they face it.

  • Watch the Youtube Video "Why Be Kind?"

  • Talk to them about showing love and mercy, even to those that may feel they don't deserve it.

  • Write down names of kids, or adults, that they think live in the "margins" and need someone to be a friend to them.

  • Speak to them about what people in the margins really look like and what they can do to help when they encounter them.


As we prepare for Lent, it is more important now than ever to look at the world around us and begin to live through action in the the Love and Light that Jesus beckons us to.


Relevant Verses:

Isaiah 9:8-21, Isaiah 10




A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.



What next?:

John Ray will be back next week as we further our studies in Isaiah. Lent starts with Ash Wednesday on February 17th - you can see our Lent Guide for 2021 at this link.

February 28, 2021

10:15am I Facebook Live

Watch last weeks message here

Seeing is Believing

Question of the Week

How would your life change if you could know what was coming in the future?


We wound our way through the high desert landscape, through the scrub of mesquite, prickly pear and sotol, wisps of grasses khaki colored, dry and barely hanging on in the gravel and sand soil. It was warm, not hot, but it was the middle of winter. As we began to climb the windy road up we started to see a few signs of the changing climate, larger trees and a bit more green. And then, almost all of a sudden we turned a corner, gained a little more elevation and were surrounded by pine trees and oaks, even aspens. It was a lush cool green, the temperature had dropped enough for us to pull on our fleeces and wool caps. In a matter of just a few minutes we had been transported from dry warm desert to cool mountain oasis. 


It was difficult to imagine a place like this, invisible from the desert plain we ascended from. So utterly different yet within a few miles of where we started from. Life is like that a lot, isn't it? A totally different reality can be so close to us, yet so impossible to see or even imagine. 


I think this is what we will encounter in our text this week, a whole different way of interpreting the world that is impossible for Israel to see from where they are, but so close at hand. The prophet’s job it to lead them to see this different world, but for what purpose? That’s what we’ll dig into this week. 

Grace and peace y'all, 


J. Ray and the teaching team

The Big Idea: Prophecies enable God’s people to look at the world in the right way.


Take Away: Instead of thinking of prophesies as a way of foretelling the future, we need to more often consider them as ways of coming to understand our current circumstances as we learn from the past.

How does this fit with "Belong, Become, Believe"? 

At Grace, we start with the practice of radical hospitality as a response to the hospitality of God shown towards us. We did not earn it not do we “deserve” it. This experience of belonging to God and to the Church is what forms us more and more into who we are, individually and collectively created to be. From this flows our faith and aspirational confessions.

Relevant Verses:

Isaiah 13-23




Grace Church God has come into your catastrophe and has overcome it, remade it. Go now with eyes to see, ears to hear, minds to discern, hearts to love and senses to smell the new creation that is being made by God the Creator, Jesus the Messiah and God the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What's Next:

Isaiah 24-27

Contact Grace Church NWA here


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