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August 7, 2022

9:30am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

Title

Become: The Process of Spiritual Fermentation

Worship Lyrics

Text

Romans 12:1-21 (NET)

Question of the Week:

What has your journey of spiritual fermentation looked like?

 

Introduction:

Growing up I had the incredible privilege of attending youth group events and getting to interact with youth who were also at various points of their spiritual journey. But the real highlight of the year for me was attending summer camp hosted by a Christian university a few hours away. For so many reasons, including that I met my future husband there when I was sixteen, these summer camps helped jumpstart some of my spiritual growth and relationship with Jesus and other Christians in ways that couldn’t quite be replicated back at home. However, there were some things about this model that perhaps weren’t conducive to long term and sustainable spiritual growth. I remember seeing many teens who “found Jesus” that week, insisted on being baptized in the ornate, outside water feature on campus, and did not return the following summer or the next. In talking to their friends, I might hear something like “yeah, I haven’t seen them in a while.” From a place of my own spiritual immaturity, I would judge this and fail to understand why this might be the case. But then I learned about sauerkraut, and I think I understand a little better… 

Grace and peace y’all, 

Jennifer Acuff and the teaching team

Pray: 

"Abba give the vision, grace and patience to be more and more transformed into who you want me to be. Amen”

 

Big Idea: 

Spiritual growth takes patience and persistence for individuals, as well as the church, and it usually involves incredible actions rather than incredible words.

 

Take Away: 

“Becoming” is a slow and involved process. It will look remarkably different at various points along the way. We need to commit patiently to the process if we are going to be fully transformed

How does this fit with Belong, Become, Believe?

We start with God’s love and an encounter with Jesus– here we find belonging. The Holy Spirit can guide us to recognize God’s actions and will which allows us to be transformed together as ministers and ambassadors with each other and to each other.

 

Questions for reflection and discussion:

What parts of your life do you feel like are stagnant? Can you reflect and identify some good byproducts? If there are not good byproducts, is there something, intrinsic or extrinsic, that might be “stunting” your fermentation?

 

What's Next?

We take a look at the third part of our ethos - Believe.

Resources:

You Are What You Love 

Grape, Grape Joy in Jesus 

New Wine

Contact Grace Church NWA here

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August 14, 2022

9:30am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

Title

Discovering Grace: Believe

Worship Lyrics

Text

Colossians 1:15-20 (NET)

Question of the Week:

If someone asked you what you believed but you couldn’t use words to answer, what would you show them?

 

Introduction:

Usually this is where we share a story or illustration to hopefully pique your interest about the text we are going to dive into for the week and encourage you to participate on Sunday. This week, however, I am just going to straight up ask you to come. I’m also asking you to go and listen to the last couple of week’s podcasts so you can get caught up (if you happened to miss them), and to not just show up this week but next week as well. We’re going to be talking about some really consequential things for our little church and we really need your presence. 

 

Grace and peace y’all, 

John Ray and the Grace Leadership Council

Pray: 

"Abba, I believe, help my unbelief and help me to know what all this really means anyway. Amen.”

 

Big Idea: 

When it comes down to it, the core of Christian “faith” can be succinctly stated in the Nicene Creed. But is that enough?

 

Take Away: 

It is not just possible, but essential to have a faith that is both deeply rooted and dynamic, growing, and changing.

How does this fit with Belong, Become, Believe?

At Grace what we believe doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s inextricably linked to our practices of hospitality and our ongoing growth and change, both individually and collectively.

 

Questions for reflection and discussion:

How have your beliefs changed along your faith journey so far? How did those changes impact your faith? How does the idea of dynamic belief feel to you? 

 

What's Next?

We are going to be discussing where we want to go from here as a church. We would love to have your input in this conversation, so please come next week!   

Resources:

Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster

Nicene Creed: Why It Still Matters

The Nicene Creed

Contact Grace Church NWA here

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August 21, 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

Title

Ok, But How?

Worship Lyrics

Text

Acts 15:22-29,

Romans 12:1-13,

2 Timothy 2:2 (NET)

Question of the Week:

What are you expecting from life right now?

 

Introduction:

On Monday, author, pastor and theologian Frederick Buechner passed away at 96. His books litter my shelves, although I’ve given away more copies than I’ve kept. He once wrote  "The grace of God means something like: 'Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you.'" 

 

Here is the world….


The echoes of Jesus are inescapable. Friends we are invited into a faith that, while not of the world, is in the world. I’ve been thinking about this as we wrap up our annual reflection on our history and ethos. We’ve taken a week to look at each of our missional statements, belong, become, believe. But all this begs the question… How? How are we to do these things we say we are committed to? That’s what we’ll dig into this week, so bring something to take notes with, grab your friends, and we’ll see y’all Sunday.

 

Grace and peace y’all, 

John Ray and the Grace Leadership Council

Pray: 

"Abba, thank you for my life, all of it. Help me to see it as the gift that it is. Help me to not be afraid as you are with me. Amen.”

 

Big Idea: 

Embodying the values of “Belong, Become, Believe” takes imagination and intention, patience, attentiveness and discerning action.

 

Take Away: 

Discerning our situation and setting our intentions is an ongoing process. The question is not “Are we going to do something?” but “What are we going to do?” We are all being formed by something, we are all spending our time on something. Being intentional helps us focus on those things that help lead to flourishing.

How does this fit with Belong, Become, Believe?

These ideas are proved out, or dismissed, by how we live them out in our everyday lives. 

 

Questions for reflection and discussion:

How have I been reflecting God's love to those I interact with daily? How do your daily activities reflect the image of God? Do they bring beauty, order, abundance, peace, love, etc.? 

 

What's Next?

We kick off digging into the Letters of Peter with the little book of Jude.   

Resources:

Grace Church NWA 

Futureville: Discover Your Purpose for Today by Reimagining Tomorrow by Skye Jethani

Contact Grace Church NWA here

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August 28, 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

Title

How Not To Contend For the Faith

Worship Lyrics

Text

Jude (MSG)

Question of the Week:

What do you think it means to “build yourself up in the faith”?

 

Introduction:

This week we kick off a short study of Jude, 1 and 2 Peter. These are not books we typically spend a whole lotta time in. That’s a shame as there is much here to dig into. These letters help us understand what it means to live as Jesus followers in the world around us. They are challenging and edifying, and I’m excited for us to do this together.

 

Grace and peace y’all, 

John Ray and the Teaching Team

Pray: 

"Abba you are the one who is able to keep me from falling and cause me to stand joyfully before you. Please Abba, make it so.”

 

Big Idea: 

“Contending for the faith” is an essential aspect of our Christian walk.

 

Take Away: 

We can’t “fight fire with fire” and we sure can’t “fight” all by ourselves. We have to reject the assumptions, postures, ways and means of those who go their own ways. We must not try to draw others away or sow discord.

How does this fit with Belong, Become, Believe?

For our hospitality to be authentic, it can’t simply be a means to an end, or worse, a method of coercion. Our becoming must be fixed on what has already been provided for us. Our belief must be rooted in the justice and mercy of God.

 

Questions for reflection and discussion:

How have you experienced "contending for the faith"? Why do you think doing so is important for the journey of faith?

What's Next?

Laura Holland leads us into 1 Peter.   

Resources:

“Examining How the Economy Disciples Us"by Emily Hill

Being Consumed by William T. Cavanaugh

Contact Grace Church NWA here

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September 4th, 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

Title

Does the cheese really stand alone?

Worship Lyrics

Text

1 Peter 1 (NET)

Question of the Week:

Have you ever felt like the "cheese that stands alone" or the odd one out??

 

Introduction:

My kids love to sing in the car and The Farmer in the Dell, (more frequently called “the song about cheese”) has become one of their favorites. It typically starts following the standard formula, the farmer takes a wife, the wife takes the child, but pretty soon they’re switching it up and adding verses where the fish and the dinosaur and the car all exist in this world of connections and relationships, but inevitably, the cheese stands alone. I clearly also have too much creative time in the car these days because I started thinking about the cheese, and how sad it was that obviously the cheese is always in the same environment as all these other interconnected pairs, but it always ends up on the outside. Maybe I’m psychoanalyzing the cheese because I relate to it; I’ve spent many seasons of my life feeling like the odd one out in situations. When I was deployed, I was one of three women in my area of the base and the only civilian. When I was a small group pastor, I attended many conferences where I was one of the only women, one of the only millennials, and one of the only people working in an urban environment. Once the Venn Diagram segments were made, I often felt like the cheese who stands alone. And if my conversations with friends or my random scrolls through Facebook have shown me anything, it’s that we all, at times, feel like the neglected cheese. Sticking with this metaphor a little longer, it’s one thing to feel like cheese in a world of connections who just haven’t connected with you, but it reaches another level when we’re surrounded by people who don’t like cheese, who don’t get cheese, who want cheese to make their lives easier by being a fish, or a dinosaur, or a car. What do we do then? How do we find hope there? Where is God in this reality? 

 

Join us this Sunday as we figure it out together.

Laura and the Teaching Team

Pray: 

"Abba there is always connection that I can rely on in you. Even when we feel alone, we truly aren't. Please help us to always be able to see that. Amen.”

 

Big Idea: 

Our identity in Christ empowers us to truly love others even when we feel out of place or misunderstood. 

 

Take Away: 

Because God loves us, we’re called to live a life “energetic and blazing with holiness,” and to love others as if our lives depend on it.

How does this fit with Belong, Become, Believe?

We’ve all been grafted into God’s family and told that we fully belong there even if we question if we belong elsewhere. As we grow within God’s family, we become shaped by God’s life, and live and love as an outpouring of what we’ve received.

 

Questions for reflection and discussion:

What's Next?

Resources:

Contact Grace Church NWA here

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September 11th, 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

Title

Living Architecture 

Worship Lyrics

Text

1 Peter 2 (NET)

 

Introduction:

The Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania is one of the largest refugee camps of the 21st Century. Currently there are approximately 150,000 people living in this camp designed for 50,000. The camp was created by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees in 1996 in response to civil war and unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many people who fled there when the camp was created are still there. A generation of children have lived their whole lives in the camp. This Sunday at Grace we will be ordaining Abwe Abedi, who was able to immigrate to the US from the camp in 2018. He and his family have been associated with Grace Church since they first arrived. More than just a ceremony, we will be bearing witness to the radical nature of the Body of Christ, people from all over united together as followers of Jesus, “built” if you will, into a demonstration of what the Kingdom of God looks like. 

 

Can’t wait ‘til Sunday, 

 

John Ray and the teaching team

Pray: 

“Abba, may we walk in the reality of our closeness, the love you have shown to us and gratitude for being called out of darkness and into your marvelous light. Amen.”

 

Big Idea: 

The followers of Jesus are called together to be a living experience of the Kingdom of God. 

 

Take Away: 

The Kingdom of God can be explained as people, things and events as God desires. The Church together is called to and created for being a witness to this reality.

How does this fit with Belong, Become, Believe?

At Grace, offering hospitality and a place to belong is a reflection of our call to be a people bearing witness to the Kingdom of God among us. Through this practice we become more and more able to live into this calling. We are formed in this both by what we confess to believe and how our experience forms our confession.

What's Next?

Dive into 1 Peter 3

Resources:

UNHCR information

Contact Grace Church NWA here

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September 25th, 2022

10:15am I Facebook Live & Zoom

Watch last week's message here

Title

Resiliently Faithful

Worship Lyrics

Family Resources

Text

1 Peter 4 (NET)

 

Introduction:

Over the past three or so years, my husband and I have been living in what seems to be a little rickety ship in an ever stormy sea. It sounds super dramatic, I know, but throughout each year it has seemed that we have not been able to feel steady. Things just kept constantly changing and falling apart and it has made us feel just so weary and frustrated at times. I would often think to myself why can’t things just work out for us? One day, we got more news that something else had gone awry, and I looked at him with a big ole grin and said “It’s never easy.” We both just laughed because while it is such a dramatic thing to say, it felt so true. “It’s never easy” became almost like a mantra for our marriage. It has served as a reminder to us that suffering and pain are part of our world and we are not in control.

Each time that we say “It’s never easy” we remind ourselves and each other that no matter what would come our way, we must choose love and connection over selfish detachment. We’ve gotta stay soft and continue on the journey. And each time we say it, we return to the hands of Jesus, remember who our Creator is and who we were created to be. Peter reminds us through our passage this week that “It’s never easy, but it’s so worth it.” 

 

Let's dig in, 

 

Betty Wilton and the teaching team

Pray: 

“Abba, keep our hearts tuned into your Spirit and give us the strength to love fervently even when we face suffering. Amen.”

 

Big Idea: 

Suffering is a real part of life and no one should go through it alone. God calls us to follow Christ’s example and enter into a loving relationship with the world around us  and come alongside one another as we face suffering.

 

Take Away: 

To live with fervent love means loving those around us even when it pushes us towards suffering. We are called to come alongside others in their suffering and let them come alongside us in our suffering because in doing so the kingdom of God is made known.

How does this fit with Belong, Become, Believe?

Together in loving community, we are drawn back to the person of Jesus and are able to find the strength to keep loving one another even when the chaos of the world is too heavy to bear. As we draw closer to Christ through prayer and communion with fellow believers, we are better able to discern God’s will. We are called to live our lives outwards for the sake of others instead of letting our unbridled pursuit of pleasure and happiness lead us to selfish detachment at the expense of others.

What's Next?

Next week, we are switching things up for our gathering together! We'll be meeting at 5:00pm for a potluck and service at Boston Mountain Youth Ranch! Katie and Jeremy have graciously invited us out to see their place and experience a bit of what they do there through their non-profit.

Resources:

This Here Flesh

Faith For Exiles

Everything Happens For A Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved

Theology From The Womb of Asia

Contact Grace Church NWA here