He makes beautiful pictures…

Father in heaven, your invisible attributes and eternal qualities are revealed through your awesome creation. You bring so many different elements together to make a beautiful picture. We know you’re doing the same thing in our lives too, Lord. Help us to remember that you’re the only one who sees the entire big picture. Help us trust in the fact that you’re still working, and that you’re powerful and good, and that you’re for us. We love you, Lord. Thank you for loving us first.
In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Old John Deere Tractors, My Father-in-law, and Resurrection

I took this pic awhile back at my in-laws house. Because of all this Corona stuff, we missed Easter lunch with Casey’s fam, for the first time ever, I guess.

Anyway, do y’all know what you’re looking at in this picture? It’s a 1942(or 43?) Model H John Deere tractor. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know, I had no idea either. This tractor is one of several that my father-in-law owns. Don’t ask him how many tractors he has because he probably can’t tell you, and even if he could, he probably wouldn’t for fear you might tell my mother-in-law! Haha. He takes old John Deere’s like this and restores them, makes them run like a song, and shine like a new dime—if dimes were John Deere Green, of course. Now, you and I might look at this picture and see a rusty old unsalvageable piece of junk. But not my father-in-law, he sees them for what he knows they CAN BE. For the shiny restored tractors, he can tell you exactly what had to be done to make them work again. For the unrestored, rusty ones, he can tell you exactly what they need to make them run like new again. The difference between him and most of us? He has the knowhow, ability, and vision for this old, dead “junk” to be resurrected, that we don’t have.

Y’all see where I’m going with this? A person’s life may look like a wrecked pile of junk, until someone comes along with the right know-how, ability, and vision for resurrection for that person’s life. Jesus Christ is the only man for the job! The Son of God knows, firsthand about going from death to life. By his perfect life, his finished work on the cross, the power to overcome the grave, Jesus can bring resurrection power to our life today and assurance of eternal life in the future.

One more thing—you and I can’t fix ourselves anymore than this old tractor can fix itself. Ephesians 2:4-5 says:

God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved.

Is that your story, friend? Do you know about the grace of God found in Christ Jesus that finds us right where we are, ugly mess and all, and saves by faith and trust in Him, and brings resurrection power to your life? Believing in and following Jesus Christ may seem crazy to the world, but it is a decision that you will never regret!

David, The Cave of COVID-19, and Making REAL Friends

David, The Cave of COVID-19, and making REAL Friends…

Everyone being cooped up and so many people hurting has me thinking about a time in David’s life in the Bible. Through no fault of his own, David had lost everything and everyone and had a powerful enemy trying to kill him. So he “escaped to the cave”(1 Sam 22:1). Sound relatable yet? While David was experiencing extreme “social distancing” in the cave, he wrote a prayer to God, Psalm 142. Here’s part of it:

I plead for mercy to the LORD…In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me…no one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me…Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name!

Some wisdom from the cave psalm:

•David was honest to God about his pain. We can be too.

•David recognized God as his true refuge. We should too.

•David didn’t just ask for the cave time to be over. He asked for it to end so he could give thanks in the name of God. That should be our attitude too.

And something else really cool happened through this time in David’s life. He found some true friends. His family, plus a bunch of people who were stressed out, having money problems, and dealing with bitterness in their soul, rallied around him. (See 1 Sam 22:1b-2) If that sounds like a bunch of misfits, that’s because it was! 😆 But hey, real friends are people who will let you be honest about the mess you’re in, and can cry out to God with you, because they love you, they’ve been there, and they know they’re no better than you.

You know, I’ve lived “out here” in Grayson County my whole life. Some would say it ain’t much to look at and say I’ve missed out. Of course, I’d say they just don’t have a good appreciation for hay bales, cattle grazing, and sunsets 🙂 BUT—most of us honestly don’t live here for the scenery. We live here for the people. Real people. People you can hurt with, heal with, and seek God with. Friends, I know we are hurting right now, but we’re gonna be ok. We’re gonna stick together, hurt, heal, and always seek and praise God.

#LookUp #OneDayAtATime

Shelter In Place…

“Shelter in place”???

No matter the circumstances, HE is our ultimate SHELTER!!! Check out Psalm 91:1-2

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Ten years ago this month, I was about to get on a plane to Israel. I’m kinda embarrassed to tell y’all this, but man I was scared! I’d barely ever been on a plane before and this was my very first International flight. For y’all who travel all the time it’s no big deal, but for a Grayson County boy, the thought of being over the ocean in a plane just freaked me out! I remember sitting there, waiting to board the plane, picking up my Bible and turning to Psalm 91. It wasn’t by accident. I’d heard or read somewhere that Psalm 91 was the “soldiers Psalm.” I love and respect military guys. I figured if it was good for them, it’d be good for me too! And it was! Not sure how many times I read portions of Ps 91 on that flight, probably at least every time we hit a bump, haha. But God used his word to help me be assured of his truth and not be paralyzed by irrational fear.

Since then I’ve sought this great Psalm many times. Several years ago a friend of mine had a bad car wreck and we weren’t sure she’d live. Some of us gathered in the elementary school parking lot in Gunter to pray for her. I read part Psalm 91 out loud and we prayed. She made it through the accident! And she’s inspired many of us since then, with the way she bounced back. And, I found out later that Psalm 91 was especially significant to her, and her fam long before we found comfort from it in the parking lot that day.

Then about one year ago, another friend was getting a liver transplant. During the surgery, I was on the phone with her husband, who is a buddy of mine. He was just beside himself, worried about his wife. So was I. We prayed together and I told him about Psalm 91. He told me later that it served as fuel for prayers for his wife during her surgery. She’s doing good now! And they’ll never look at Psalm 91 the same.

That’s just a couple of incidents that come to mind. I don’t know how many times God has used this psalm to bring comfort to me or how many times I’ve recommended it! In times of uncertainty and fear, we need to hear from God through His word. We need to know that, through Christ, we can be assured of his love, peace, and protection. Jesus is the ultimate “shelter in place.” And we can always ABIDE (John15) in Him.

We need the truth of Psalm 91, ESPECIALLY RIGHT NOW, friends! I encourage you to read it and pray through it yourself!

#LookUp #OneDayAtATime #Psalm91 #ShelterInPlace #Abide

Important Information In Response To Covid-19

Given all of the recommended precautions to avoid the spread of Covid-19, all “in person” meetings, gatherings, and Bible studies are suspended until further notice.

We’ll continue to livestream our Sunday morning services as long as we need to. And we will continue to share Christ-centered content via email and social media.

**Specifically be on the lookout for some helpful videos from our staff members** 👀

Please like us on Facebook and Instagram if you haven’t already!

This are challenging times for all of us. The health concern is real, financial constraints are inevitable, and many are dealing with hard disappointments over many cancellations and postponements. Add to all of those things the fact that “social distancing” can be especially hard for people like us who love and value community! We miss being around each other, and that’s a good thing! And one day, hopefully very soon, we will be back to our fellowships that include handshaking, hugging, circling up for Bible study, praying with one another, and singing together. But until then, we’ll do our part to love others by doing everything we can to prevent the spread of this illness.

A few things for us as a church to bear in mind during this especially challenging time:

God is good. He has shown his faithfulness toward us in a million ways, but chiefly in that Jesus Christ died for our sins, that by faith in him we can be forgiven and have fellowship with him. He is good, and regardless of how circumstances may present, he is for us. (Romans 5:8)

God is in control — he is the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth and he is not surprised by any of this. He is not panicked. So while we can, and should be, cautious and sensible, we are not to be scared or panicked. Mainly because our God, who we know and trust is not panicking. (Psalm 2, Psalm 115:3)

People are created in the image of God—all people. And as we love God, we also love the people who bear his image. People disagree on how to best handle what is going on in our world right now. While we may not all agree, we as Christ followers can treat people with respect dignity and love, regardless of how we feel about their opinions. We want to help and serve God’s image bearers every way that we can. (Genesis 1:27, Psalm 8, Psalm 139)

We’re still a faith family, stay connected. Christians have many “one anothers” prescribed to them in Scripture. It can be a challenge to fulfill those when can’t meet, but we can, by God’s grace, try. Consider sending a personal text message to people in your church or and just say “Hey I miss you. Y’all doing ok? Can I pray for you or help you in any way?”

Jesus is everything. We have got to keep our eyes fixed on him and our confidence in him, and pour out our prayers to him. He is the reason for the hope that is us. He is our strength for today and our bright hope for tomorrow. Because of Jesus, no matter what happens we know that we are called, loved, and kept by God. Turn to Him, ESPECIALLY as He has revealed himself to us in His Word. (Colossians 1:15-20)

Many of us have a rare instance of extra discretionary time right now. Consider spending some time in the Word seeking Jesus. If you don’t know where to start, start with the gospel of John. Read it slowly, a paragraph at a time, meditate on the passage, pray, then ask, and journal the answer to these questions:

•What does this passage say about God?

•What does it say about man?

•What does it say about the relationship between God and man?

•And how do I apply it to my life?

Also, when studying John, pay special attention and note/journal the “I AM” statements found throughout the book!

Jesus is everything, so it’ll be time well spent!

Important Information…

In light of recent events, some important information about upcoming church services:

No Wednesday night activities for kids, middle school, or high school students this week. Sunday night, High School and College Bible Study will meet in an online format.

We will still have our Sunday 10:45am worship service including GraceKids, preschool, and nursery.

Please bear in mind the following:

•The service will be streamed on Facebook Live and we encourage you to join us via that avenue if you have any reservations about attending in person.

•If you, or anyone in your family has (or have recently had) a fever, cough or other symptoms of being sick, please keep the best interest of others in mind, and STAY HOME.

•If you feel like you might be at risk for illness please STAY HOME.

•Please refrain shaking hands. A wave will do this Sunday.

•We’ll have hand sanitizer and hand soap readily available. Please use them and ensure that your kids use them as well.

•We’re taking measures to make sure everything is wiped down and cleaned.

•Yes, we have toilet paper.

That’s our plan for this week. As things develop, we may need to make adjustments as needed. We appreciate your understanding.

For His Glory,

Grace Bible Leadership

I THINK I CAN!!!

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. – Psalm 127:1

“I think I can! I think I can!” Just keep saying it, right? How many times have we heard a retelling of ‘The Little Engine That Could’? You’ve got this, right? All we need is more will power, right? We can do anything we set our minds to…right? But eventually we are faced with the sobering reality that the Little Engine That Could, CAN’T.

The world may tell us that we can do it on our own, but throughout the Scriptures and even through our own experiences, we’re told, we desperately need God.

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

Christian, Husband, Dad, Pastor