Monday, February 25, 2013

Word on the Street - 2/22/13

During the Lenten season we are studying temptation in church. How many times have you been tempted today by food? Alcohol? Shopping? Gary Zukav says behind every temptation there is a typical dynamic. It's easy to think of a temptation as a trap, but Gary Zukav says it's just the opposite.  Zukav says temptation is a compassionate gift: an opportunity to learn without creating negative consequences.

"Temptation is like a magnet. It brings negative things to the surface - and it allows you to do something about it. Temptation is an invitation to get to know yourself.   You can think of temptation as providing you with a "dress rehearsal." When you're tempted, you can play out in your mind what would happen if you indulge. Once you visualize what would happen if you snack on some chips, smoke a cigarette, buy those shoes, you can make a choice to resist or act out. The benefit of playing this out in your mind is that you don't create any negative consequences if you choose to resist. Only if you act on your temptation, have you created negative consequences for yourself and others."

Jesus was tempted in the wilderness just as we are tempted in our everyday lives, however we not only have the ability to resist temptation but more importantly have the grace to insist on God's way in our lives.  What are you doing this week to insist on God's way?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Word on the Street - 01/25/13

For this Word on the Street please CLICK HERE to see several video FAQs about what to expect with the schedule changes this weekend AND hear descriptions of each of the services. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Word on the Street

As we approach the time of New Beginnings at Grace Avenue I have been asked frequently about both the schedule and the description of the various services. The staff has been working diligently to prepare for this exciting new time at our church. One of the great challenges, however has been to create a description that does not read like a book. I want descriptions that are simple and direct.
There is no way to describe these new experiences 100% so we are attempting to describe the essence of each worship service with room for growth, change and most importantly, the Holy Spirit.

As you read these descriptions I would love to be in dialogue with you. We are planning some Q & A times both in person and online. Be watching for these events or email me at remember we move into the new sanctuary on Jan 5th & 6th with the existing schedule. On January 26th & 27th we will open the renovated Worship Center and begin the new six worship service schedule.

Here is a list and brief description of what you can expect beginning January 26th:

Contemporary Worship Expressions - In the Renovated Worship Center

Saturday 5:30 pm, Sabbath Service
A come-as you-are Sunday alternative experience
FOCUS: In a busy world we honor God by having sacred time for worship and reclaimed time for rest and family.

Sunday 9:30 am, Celebration Service
A joyful praise experience
FOCUS: Music and message that is uplifting, encouraging and relevant.

Sunday 11:00 am, Threshold Service
A postmodern community experience
FOCUS: Entering into worship that integrates gathering, growing, going and giving in the life of faith

Traditional Worship Expressions - In the New Sanctuary

Sunday 8:30 am, Communion Service
An early morning sacrament-centered experience
FOCUS: Built around the United Methodist service of Holy Communion every week.

Sunday 9:30 am, Foundation Service
A family oriented experience
FOCUS: Families engage and participate in worship together.

Sunday 11:00 am, Covenant Service
A time-honored experience
FOCUS: Wesleyan theology presented through liturgy, ritual, hymns and choral singing

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Word on the Street

You have access to Grace Avenue in two new ways right at your fingertips and you may not even realize it. One of the great challenges for a church like ours is to make the great content of Grace Avenue accessible, mobile and able to keep up with people on the go. These new tools are no longer dreams. They are ready and available for download today.

The first is a wonderful new recording project just in time for the season. It is called "Christmas on Grace Avenue" and it features Laurie Hanson Roberts, The Grace Avenue Band and the Grace Avenue Adult Choir. They perform traditional Christmas songs as well as music that unique to Grace Avenue. One of the songs is a beautiful original piece entitled: "Speak" composed and arranged by Laurie and Doug Cuny.

When the project was in the production phase a decision was made to make it available in such a way that the largest number of people could enjoy it. "Christmas on Grace Avenue" is available on iTunes and Android Market. You can find it by searching for "Grace Avenue Band". Or you can CLICK HERE to purchase through our website. It is a great way to get in the spirit of the season.

Also now available is the Grace Avenue app. It is available for your smartphone or tablet device. It has the most recent sermons, information, and links to everything Grace Avenue. Traveling and want to see and hear a recent sermon? Go to your Grace Avenue app. Need to sign up for an upcoming Grace Avenue event? Go to your Grace Avenue app. Forget your offering last week and want to make a gift online? Go to your Grace Avenue app. The app is free and can be downloaded at the in the Apple App Store or Android Market. Simply search "Grace Avenue".

I want to thank Clint Allen and our Communications Department for the great way in which they are making Grace Avenue; "Not a location, but a way of life."

Friday, November 30, 2012

Word on the Street

Does the current representation of Christmas really work for us anymore? Retailers push Christmas earlier in the calendar every year. We have to be guarded about what we are celebrating, the greetings we give, the gifts we share; even the words we use are in dispute. Add to this the raw emotions of unrealistic expectations, unrealized wishes and uncertain prospects and it feels like the Christmas Machine we have created is displaying a sign which reads "Out of Order".

In the spirit of the lectionary, Advent begins a new Gospel cycle with a focus on the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 1:3 the Gospel writer expresses his desire to write an "orderly account" of Jesus' birth, ministry, death and resurrection. His "orderly account" is both a matter of sequence and priority. It is about both chronos and kairos time. In other words, Advent is a time to get things back in their proper order and remember that God's plan is much more fulfilling than ours.

Join us for Worship this week as we begins our sermon series: "Christmas Out of Order."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Word on the Street

Thanksgiving may be our best holiday when it comes to simply being together with others. The great feast itself is normally accompanied by pre-feast appetizers and after-feast second helpings and leftovers. In reality the food is simply garnish for the greater experience of fellowship with family and friends.

The early Christians understood the concept of simply being together as loved ones. They called it Koinonia. We translate the word "fellowship". Fellowship is another Godly pathway to contentment. Instead of being pursued by happiness, we can choose the gracious gift of being together.

Robert Kriegel is the author of the book; If IT Ain't Broke...Break IT! In it he writes:

"What often goes missing in the bumper-sticker, The One Who Dies With the Most Toys Wins philosophy of life are considerations of the cost of consumption. Not just the initial down-payment costs, but the subsequent emotional, family and psychological costs.

The greatest irony in the pursuit of the most toys is that it inevitably requires the most time to get them, leaving the least time to use them. Pollster Lou Harris has found that people have an average 32 percent less leisure time than they did a decade ago.

With there being only so many hours in the day, something has to give. Consequently, the dream car has been parked so long it's used more air in the tires than gas in the tank. The country house for weekend getaways may as well be in another country. The two-week ski trip to Europe has been delayed for the third winter. And the treasured wooden skiff hasn't touched anything wet in eight months. Blessed are the toys for they shall inherit the...dust!"

I pray your Thanksgiving is a feast of great fellowship.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Word on the Street

The election is finally over. Clearly the country is decisively split. In spite of our differences, however God is still God and God is still good. The sun still came up on Wednesday regardless of how you or anyone else voted on Tuesday. Now is not the time for victorious gloating or sour grape bitterness. I am astounded at some of the unholy and unhelpful reactions I have read on social media. Instead we would do well to heed the time honored words of our Methodist Founder John Wesley who in 1774 said:

"I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them
1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy
2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and
3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side."

The Apostle Paul wrote: "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us." (II Corinthians 5: 16-20)

How are you functioning as Christ's Ambassador this week?