January 2nd 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & In Person at Clapp Auditorium, Mt Sequoyah in Fayetteville

Watch last week's message here

Title

Stop Paying Attention

Worship Lyrics

Text

Psalm 23,

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NET)

Question of the Week

What do you need to pay attention to this coming year? What do you need to quit paying attention to?

Introduction

It’s already started, hasn’t it? The tsunami wave to ads and enticements to start afresh for the new year. New diet, new body, new you for the new year. All you have to do is click here, buy this, join this, read this, watch this. Sure they want your money, but what they want first it your attention knowing that if they get that, your money will follow. 

 

So as the new year starts I have a request of my own. 

 

Stop paying attention. Stop giving mental real estate to all the ads and enticements and amusements. 

 

But that’s easier said than done, right? In fact, it’s impossible. 

 

Impossible, unless...

 

Join us Sunday up on Mt Sequoyah and let’s see if we can find a better way to start the new year. 

Grace and peace y’all, 

John Ray and the teaching team 

The Big Idea: 

Paying attention to, becoming aware of, God’s presence and provision for us in essential to living a flourishing life.

Take Away: 

The table is one of the most significant symbols of welcome, safety, inclusion and healing that we have. Understanding what it means to be included at God’s table is essential to understanding what it means to be a Christian.

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

 At Grace we believe the Church it to imitate the table hospitality of God by whole heartedly embracing all who are seeking after Jesus. This practice of hospitality transforms us more into the image of the one who first embraced us. All of this forms our confession, intention and faith.

What's Next?

We take a look at Luke 14: 1-14

Resources:

Contact Grace Church NWA here

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January 9th 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & In Person at Clapp Auditorium, Mt Sequoyah in Fayetteville

Watch last week's message here

 

Title

Excuses, Excuses...

Worship Lyrics

Text

Luke 14:15-24 (NET)

Question of the Week

What is keeping us from the table?

Introduction

My dad just couldn’t understand it, but went along with it anyway. We were shopping for a new pair of boots (a very Texan thing to do, I know). He’d steered me into the Lucchese store and pulled a couple of pair for me to try on. I impatiently did as he asked, but was ready to get out of there and head to the place that had the pair I knew I wanted. When he suggested I take the ones he had chosen, I let him know about the other ones I had my eye on. He tried to explain that the pair he was offering to buy was a much better choice, but I’d have none of it. 

 

And here’s the moral. He was so very right. You see I’d my heart set on a pair of Dan Post, the kind most of my friends were wearing. And in case you’re lost on the contrast imagine choosing a Hyundai when someone offers you a Mercedes, or choosing McDonalds over Ruth’s Chris, or 2 nights in Branson over a month on Maui. 

 

I made the choice because my imagination was limited, overly formed by what I saw my peers valuing. It was also because I really didn’t fully understand what I was being offered, I didn’t pay attention to what my dad was trying to show me. I chose a pair of boots that I’m sure I liked for a while, wore out and threw out over a pair that I could possibly still have to this day. 

 

Our choices matter. They matter in small things - like boots, and huge things like how we respond to God’s ongoing invitation to us. Let’s dig in this week and see what we can find.

Grace and peace y’all, 

John Ray and the teaching team 

The Big Idea: 

Valuing our invitation to, and belonging in, the Kingdom of God should be at the center of every decision we make.

Take Away: 

Nothing says more about us than the choice we make, except maybe the excuses we make for our choices.

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

At Grace we start with belonging as a direct reflection of the invitation given in this passage (among so much else). It starts with a seat at the table with everyone else. Practicing this form of hospitality is essential to our becoming, our choosing above all else to walk in the way of Jesus. These experiences in turn guide and are guided by what we say we believe. 

What's Next?

We take a look at who should get the seat of honor in Luke 14:1-14 NET

Resources:

Two books some of us are digging into:

Contact Grace Church NWA here

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January 16th 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

 

Title

Minding the Fences

Worship Lyrics

Text

Luke 14:1-14 (NET)

Question of the Week

Where in your life are you seeking honor?

Introduction

Back in the year 2000, Reed Hastings, CEO and cofounder of a boot strap startup named Netflix proposed a partnership to Blockbuster’s CEO, John Antioco. He pitched a plan in which Netflix would handle Blockbuster’s online services, and Blockbuster would manage Netflix’s physical DVD rentals. The story goes that he was laughed out of the room. Later that same year, the cash strapped Netflix offered itself for sale to Blockbuster for a mere 50 million bucks. Blockbuster turned them down.

Ten years later Blockbuster was filing for bankruptcy and Netflix was well on it’s way to being, well, Netflix.

Cool story, but what’s it got to do with Jesus and our passage this week in Luke? Well, I think it has a lot to say, let’s dig in and see what we can find.

Grace and peace y’all, 

John Ray and the teaching team 

The Big Idea: 

Jockeying for a higher position is counter to the ethic of the Kingdom of Jesus.

Take Away: 

Understanding our near inescapable penchant for trying to secure our own “place” is key to resisting it.

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

At Grace, offering hospitality and a true sense of belonging is a reflection of the welcome we have experienced from Jesus. We seek to practice this with deep humility in the hope it will guide our becoming more and more like Jesus. This believe practice and experience both form and are formed by the confession of our faith.

Kid Focus:

It can be hard as a parent figuring out in what ways it is important to train your child to be assertive.  You don’t want them to be exploited in any way, but you don’t want them to be the obnoxious kid who is always racing to be the first in line.  Watching out for others who might be sick, suffering, lonely, or marginalized is a large part of the Gospel, and it’s a huge responsibility for parents and other adults to teach to our children.  
 

  • Watch this video about a kid who started The Buddy Bench to help school playgrounds have a more caring atmosphere.  If you and your kids find this idea compelling, check to see if your school needs a buddy bench! 

  • In January 2022, in celebration of the King Holiday, The King Center is calling on educational institutions and organizations around the globe to join them for a worldwide Teach-In.

  • The theme for the 2022 King Holiday Observance is “It Starts with Me: Shifting Priorities to Create the Beloved Community.”  Talk with your kids about what a “beloved community” looks like.  Take out some Legos or other building materials and make a small town together, talking about what all the community members might need to feel seen, valued, and loved.  Pick one thing from your discussion and make it an action item!  For example, if you built a fire station and talked about the needs of the firefighters to be supported, drop off some wrapped snacks for the nearest station.  Maybe you talked about the poor people you see walking towards 7hills Day Center.  Take some items that can be put together for meals by those with kitchens and those who might be living in a tent in the woods to the Day Center.  Leave the discussion open and see where your kids’ hearts might lead them in showing compassion for others.  

  • Put a little Veggie Tales Love Your Neighbor in your earbuds!  

What's Next?

John Ray takes us into Revelation 19:6-9 (NET)

Contact Grace Church NWA here

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January 23rd 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

 

Title

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Worship Lyrics

Text

Revelation 19:6-9 (NET)

Question of the Week

Who is missing from your table that you wish was there?

Introduction

Recently the barrier-breaking actor Sidney Poitier passed away. In one of his many landmark films, he plays the finance of a younger white woman who surprise both their sets of parents with their engagement. The story involves the conflicted responses from all four parents, their friends, and even the housekeeper. One of the most interesting thing about this is the film came out in 1967 when interacial marriages were still illegal in 17 states. It was only in that year when those laws were struck down in the case Loving vs. Virginia. 

It’s difficult to imagine how this film, this tangible representation of something that was up to that time not only socially taboo, but actually illegal in so many places in this country, changed people’s perceptions and acceptance. Although there tragically remains a minority of people who would still reject such a union and there demands significantly more to be done to achieve anything close to racial equality, equity and justice in our country, this film is not nearly as controversial now as it was then. We need to be cognizant when considering the impact of such things that they may seem very different to us than they did to the original audience. 

Likewise, we need to be careful when we approach Scripture assuming that our interpretation of the text is anything like that of the original audience. We need to do the work to try and understand what it meant to the first readers and hearers to better understand what it means to us. 

Let’s dig in this week and see what we can find.
 

Grace and peace y’all, 

John Ray and the teaching team 

The Big Idea: 

God’s heart and design is for everyone from everywhere to have a seat at the table. 

Take Away: 

The Gospel of the Kingdom stands in opposition to the idea that our “specialness” rests in exclusiveness. A central ethic of the Kingdom is the inclusion of those otherwise left out.

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

At Grace Church the practice of hospitality, of providing an invitation to belong, is core to our practice of following Jesus, of becoming more and more like him. This forms and is reflected in what we say we believe.

Kid Focus:

Enjoy this story together about a family who had to rebuild their table.  
Talk about it:  What’s the state of your family’s table?  Is there room to squeeze in a few guests?  Are there things that family members enjoy about the table time together that you need to make sure to keep?  Is there anyone who would not be welcome at your table?  Why?  (Adults-you can make this funny, starting with stuffed animals, monsters, or a villain from a show your child has watched.  Steer the conversation to show grace, forgiveness, and hope for all!) 


Make a 2022 dinner guest list.  Let each family member contribute names of guests they’d like to invite over sometime in the coming year.

What's Next?

Top Articles from 2021 from Missio Alliance

Contact Grace Church NWA here

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January 30th 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

 

Title

A Wee Little Story About a Relational God

Worship Lyrics

Text

Luke 19:1-10 (NET)

Question of the Week

For whom are you practicing your faith?

Introduction

My basketball career ended around the same time my vertical growing did, but when I think back to playing, what I remember most is hearing my dad cheering on the sidelines. The two instructions I heard most often were, “be a tree!” In other words, get as big as you can to take up the most space that you can, and “box ‘em out!” Both were defensive moves intended to keep the other team from advancing toward their goal and I was moderately effective considering these were really my only two skills. The instructions in the two cheers also accurately set the stage for the first act of our story for today: Zacchaeus is trying his hardest to be a tree (and eventually ends up in one) and the crowd is insistent on boxing him out. 

These defensive postures aren’t relegated to the citizens of Jericho, though, so if we’re going to embrace a spirit of hospitality and welcoming as a church, and practice it through our upcoming Table Groups, how do we recognize where we’re being trees or blocking people out, and what might it look like if we model ourselves after Jesus instead? 

Join us this weekend as we dig into it together.
 

Laura Holland and the teaching team 

The Big Idea: 

Jesus seeks out each of us (yes, even those we’d rather be excluded), and invites us into relationship.

Take Away: 

Despite challenges and acting against the social norm, Jesus went out of his way to build relationship at the table. When we embrace the idea and practice that everyone has a seat at the table, we’re likely to encounter challenges and bump against social norms, too. Even so, this is still what we are called to do.

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

Hospitality, our extending the offer to belong, is embodied in the mission and heart of Jesus, who embraced and treated sinners as those who belonged at His table. This does what the law can never do- inspire faith and form holy and healing behaviors. Belonging transforms our becoming and inspires our believing.

Resources

Important questions to ask in as the Pandemic reveals things

 

What's Next?

John Ray leads us in digging into Luke 9:10-17 and the “feeding of the 5000”

Contact Grace Church NWA here