Monday, April 03, 2006

04.02.06 Message: Stones at Gilgal

Yesterday, I took one more crack at trying to get us ready for our upcoming 75th Anniversary. We looked at this amazing passage in Joshua 3-5.

This "must-hear" message is posted in all the usual places and HERE!

We saw that God commands His people, on this occasion, to remember using three means, each of them dripping with Gospel type and shadow:

1. Two Stone Monuments: to remind the people of His PRESENCE with them, symbolized by the Ark, in front of which the people passed safely from the wilderdess of God's punishment to the Land of Promise and life. Christ is our ARK, the one who fulfills the Law for us and sheds his blood on the Mercy Seat as the "once-for-all-time" Atonement Sacrifice. (By the way, the stone monument built by the 3rd service was by far the tallest and most impressive! Hopefully we'll remember this one!)

2. Circumcision: the sign of the Covenant, to remind the people of His PROMISE to send the Seed of Abraham. Christ is that Seed, according to Genesis 3:16.

3. Passover: to remind the people of God's graceful PROVISION of a substitute sacrifice, even though, they, like the Egyptians, deserved God's judgment. All passover sacrifices look forward to the True Passover, Jesus, Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. I Cor. 5:7 tells us that "Christ our Passover has been sacrificed."

Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Scriptures . . . the Amen to all God's promises. The Bible comes alive when you read it this way!

The message closed with 10 reasons why God commands our remembrance. I put them in front of us again as approach our 75th Annivesary. May they happen among us over these 7 weeks. . .

1. To encourage reflection on God’s faithfulness.
2. To illicit praise, honor,glory and the worship of God.
3. To bring reformation and covenant renewal.
4. To unite their little story to God’s “BIG STORY.”
5. To showcase the Gospel of God’s Grace.
6. To expose their dependence: The battle belongs to the Lord!
7. To build their unity.
8. To testify to the next generation of children.
9. To encourage evangelism of the surrounding peoples.
10. To inspire steadfast faithfulness and courageous faith.

Finally, here's a funny cartoon that someone sent me last week as I was preparing for Sunday. I was going to show it in services, but a few questioned whether it was appropriate. (We're so straight-laced!) Time was tight, so I opted to scrap it. Anything goes here at "life together." Well, almost anything. . .

I think that's pretty funny!

Yesterday was nuts, but a sweet nuts!


Lisa Lewis said...

LOL! I think the cartoon is funny, but knowing how lacking in sense of humor evangelicals can be I think it is wise to have set the toon aside for this forum!

Tim, I think you handled the emphasis of looking back to be tied in to the present very well. I have read the story of crossing the Jordan many times and love it for the bookends of two verses, Ch.4:7 ..."So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever." and Ch.4:24 ..."that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever." The notes I have written in my Bible margins for these verses say "These are a memorial of God's faithfulness and how He worked in their lives and are written to us that we may know and trust His faithfulness in our own lives." I have lived long enough to have experienced God's faithfulness many, many times. When my son's father left us, a friend gave me a card of encouragement that I framed and have hanging in my home. It is a memorial to me of God's faithfulness through the years. Having places of remembrance to be encouraged to continue trusting God in the difficult times is very wise and helpful. We are not all that different from the nation of Israel; we all wander away from God in various ways. Thankfully, He remains faithful in spite of us.

The case you made for tying the 75th anniversary celebration to establishing a memorial to God's faithfulness to His people at Grace Church, to the community and the ends of the earth, is very compelling. I must confess, prior to yesterday, I was one of the skeptics who have been sitting in the pew with folded arms questioning the viability of this endeavor. We serve an extravagant God who deserves an extravagant celebration, no doubt.

Suzette Lyons said...

You seemed to be trying to get us to personalize this celebration. I hate to admit that I was thinking “How does celebrating what God has done for other people over the last 75 years pertain to me?” Very self-centered I will admit. I felt guilty about not being more enthusiastic. (In my defense I was incredibly tired. The 8am service plus getting up another hour earlier because of daylight savings time after a long trip last week was too much for me).

I had to think about it for awhile. The picture that came to my mind was of my family say seven to ten years ago. What has happened since to other families we knew back then. And also the hopes and dreams I had for my self, my husband and my children. We were an ordinary secular family. So I have a pretty good picture of where we would be with out God in our lives. We certainly do not deserve all of the blessings we have received. Even my best hopes fell so short of where God has placed us today. But still what does that have to do with Grace Church?

I got another picture. It was prompted by this great book I have been reading about the life of Sarah and Jonathan Edwards back in the 1700’s. The story of their family captured the picture of God’s incredible spiritual riches being poured from one life into another over the generations and spilling over to all the people who knew them. I started thinking about all of the stories I have ever heard about great people. There is always someone who taught them - who poured spiritual blessing into their life. It is some times hard to believe what God is like until we see it in the flesh. God takes imperfect people and shines his glory through their lives out to others.

I knew that God blessed my family, but I did not make the connection before. God has been pouring his spirit into the lives of the faithful at Grace Church for 75 years. There is a certain synergy when saints get together to worship and encourage each other to grow in the knowledge of God. The increase is noticeable. There have been times when I have felt quite jealous. God works so quietly I almost didn’t notice the changes he was making. Now that I think about it there is a long list of names and faces that comes to mind. Each one poured a cupful into my life or one of my family members lives. It is so easy for me to see how far I fall short that I don’t notice ALL I have received. It is very convicting that I have not taken the time to thank each one. Of course each one has received from the ones before. Someone poured spiritual blessing into the life of Leroy Persson. I am guessing the line goes back to the first century. Back to Jesus Christ death on the cross. It boggles my mind. It would be so cool to see the list like the genealogies in the Bible. To see the trail from Jesus Christ through all the saints to me. I am guessing that each one would decline the honor and point me to the cross of Christ.

So anyway it is personal for me now. I am grateful for each one God has used to grow me and bless me. I am delighted to celebrate God’s faithfulness as it has flowed through his saints right here at Grace Church. And I pray that I will be useful to God in passing on the love and joy to be found in a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ his son.

Dave McShea said...


I loved the sermon Sunday and loved all the symbolism of the gospel.

As reflected on it later in the day I kept thinking about the “stones” and how they had to go back to the middle of the river to get them. Back to where the Ark of the Covenant was, (As you explained, the symbol of the cross where we pass from the land of judgment into the land of promise). I wondered how the rocks would play out in our day.

What I came up with may not be right but what I see as the stones we pile up are the testimonies of our people. I thought of the testimonies we hear at baptisms. I thought of the testimonies of people serving the Lord throughout their lives. I thought of the baby dedications and committing to the Lord our next generation. These are the “stones” we pile up to help us remember the faithfulness of God and trust Him as we walk in faith.

Thanks again for the reminder and showing how wherever we are in Scripture, the gospel is there.

Dave McShea

Andy Gibson said...

Ok, detour.

Lets discuss the 75th anniversary dinner at the Expo Center. Jeannett and I were floored when we saw the suggested payment. Now, I know there are sponsored tickets, but don't you think that in general, sponsored or not, we are shutting A LOT of people out of this event? Regardless of how open we try to be, there are going to be people that feel they don't belong at this event if they need to ask for support.

Or put another way, why do we have to have a event that is $35 bones to cap off our celebrations? I guess I just personally feel that is a lot to ask. Now, I can afford it, I'm not complaining. I'm just worried about those that can't because not too long ago, I couldn't either. Not everybody at Grace is forking in the dough, and I am very worried about the message the church will be sending with this.

What about kids? Are they $35 bucks too? If they are, my concerns are only compounded and family worship is out the window.

Feel free to tell me I am full of it. If somebody was going to start a ruckus it might as well be me, but my lovely wife made the same gasp when I showed her the price.

Humbly (this time), Andy (and Jeannett).

Pastor Tim Theule said...

Hey A & J,

I'll forward your questions on to the large multi-generational 75th Anniversary Committee that's been working on this thing for nearly 2 years. In the mean time, let me tell you what I know...

The committee agonized over this one a long, long time. They looked at every available venue in the county. They looked at every possibility for holding the event on the church campus. They even explored the possibility of renting a big tent and putting it on someone's property. From what I've been told, they just couldn't come up with another more affordable option to seat as many people as we hope, pray and expect will be there for this once-in-75 years banquet.

The committee has worked hard to reach out to former Grace folks who now live out of the area and invite them to join us for this celebration of God's faithfulness. They thought it fitting and appropriate to pull out all the stops and put together a banquet where all of us could be togethe in one place and one time. (Since we can't worship together on Sunday because of space limitations.) We believe that God's faithfulness is worthy to be celebrated in this manner as well as the many other ways they have planned. There's things that are planned for this evening, involving some of the staff from past eras, that really aren't appropriate for the worship services the next day.

After considering every option, after much prayer and discussion, they decided on the Madonna Expo. Phyllis M. was kind enough to cut us a great deal.

The committee's hope is that this too will be a chance for the body to support one another. You'll see on the registration form that we are inviting those who want to help others be attend this singular evening to make an additional contribution. Those who can't afford it are encouraged to share their need so we can meet it. I know their desire is make a way for all who desire to be there to attend.

If can't pull this off, it means the finacially blessed are stingy and the finacially needy are prideful. Let's wait and see what happens.

For those, possibly like yourselves, who don't see the point of such an evening, the committee has also planned one of our great all-church picnics after worship services on Sunday. $5/a head.

The kid question is a good one that I'll pass on. Susie and I haven't discussed it, but I'm guessing the banquet won't be too kid-friendly and we'll opt to leave our kids with a sitter, though Haaken may be on mommy's hip. (Its gonna cost us a lot more than its going to cost you, friend!) We should probably the communicate the kid's stuff in our promo for the event. I'm hoping many of our teens can be there.

I hope that helps, A & J.

How much does it cost to go to dinner and movie? Tough to get out for less than $40.

How about dinner and a concert? 60 at minimum?

From what I can tell, the church has never done an banquet like this in 75 years and we don't have any plans for another one for at least 25 years. Its a once-in-a-generation event. The old timers won't make the next one. What's an event like this worth? $35/head seems reasonable to me.

Let's nip this thing in the bud. The enemy wants to divde and destroy. --Pastor Tim

Jeannett Gibson said...

My turn.

"For those, possibly like yourselves, who don't see the point of such an evening,"

I think I speak for both of us when I say that we are both totally jazzed for the, the point is very much understood. I suppose I'm just concerned that it could make people uncomfortable. In fact, you brought up a good point: babysitting. The event does not seem very kid friendly (which, personally, I believe is unfortunate even though we don't have kids ourselves) but in addition to the cost of the dinner, families are now looking at babysitting costs. I just want to be sure that the entire purpose of this event--getting everyone under the same roof for celebration--will achieve its goal.

Going out is expensive...but, I think if you ask many of our young families, that's why they don't do it. Just because something is a once in a lifetime event, doesn't mean that the funds are available for it. I understand the donation thing, and I pray that the stingy/prideful scenario is not a reality.

Thanks for the response! We know a ton of people have been working hard on this, and we really do appreciate all of the energy and love poured into it.

Andy Gibson said...

I second J. Please don't misunderstand me, I very much see the point of the event and am excited about it. My concerns are on the exclusionary message we may end up sending.

Brianna Heldt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim Weaver said...

As one on the committee, yes, we did agonize over this, and we really believe that this is our best, most economical, way to do this. I think Tim is right that if we would ever do something like this, now is the time. I'm also hoping that Grace church will come together to care for one another in helping one another be able to go.

From a value perspective, we think that we are giving people more than their money's worth, but more than that. I think that we are putting together an event that will glorify the Lord, unite us around Him and the work that He has called us into at Grace church, and inspire us to run after Him more than ever.

Suzette Lyons said...

I appreciate all the work Tim and the other commitee members have put in for this celebration. So far it looks fantastic. A dinner of this type would normally run $75 to $100 per person so the $35 per person is realy amazingly low in comparision. The logistics of providing childcare for an event like this would be unworkable so I see why that was not attempted.

As a parent of young children I sympathize greatly with young families. We have missed four of the last six Sundays at church because of our childrens health (and one because of snow). We love the ALL Church Events and hate to miss any of them. We will face some challenges if we are to attend.

I feel increadibly greatful to all of those who came before me and who have blessed each member of my family through their service at Grace Church. Honoring them and God's work through them is here at Grace is worth all of the expense. All of the money is God's and he is our provider. He will supply all of our needs. We need to trust him.

I used to always wonder at Solomon's temple and think why didn't they use that money to help the poor. Why did Solomon need to pour extravegant resources in to a temple couldn't they do just as well with the tent they had? The temple was to glorify God and god provided all of the resources, so it was worth it.

If we are not able to attend the banquet because of Wayne's work schedule, we will go to the picnic. If I can not go maybe I can babysit for someone else so they can go. Even if we can't go we will seriously consider sponsoring someone else to go.

I have been blessed by financial assitance to go to retreat when I needed it and was hugely grateful. I hope no one hesitates to ask for financial assistance. They need to be there if they can.

Brianna Heldt said...

Tim W., thanks for sharing your input as a committee member. (You and Karen always do such a great job with the church events!)

I realized after re-reading my post that it probably didn't come across the way I had intended. Part of it even seemed arrogant--yuck--so I deleted it! :)

Hopefully it's okay to have concerns about an event without being divisive. I won't take the time to clarify what I meant to convey in my original post, but I will say that I think people are bringing up valid concerns/questions in regard to that part of the anniversary celebration.

Tim Weaver said...

I didn't look at anyone's comments as divisive. I don't feel attacked or put off or anything like that. These are good questions/concerns about what we are doing as a church and I think that they deserve an answer.

Just like we had an evening with the elders where questions could be asked, I believe that every board/committee is accountable for what they are doing and how they are using the resources that have been given to Grace church for the furtherance of the Gospel. Questions and comments must be welcomed.

I'm not saying that everything needs to be agreed upon by the whole congregation, otherwise nothing would ever get done, but questions and concerns should be raised and answers given. At the end of the day we may agree to disagree, but at least we will understand where each other are coming from and we will still love one another and fellowship the Christ who shed His blood for us.

Jeannett Gibson said...

Thanks Tim W. for the response. I think it's hard to question things without feeling bad about hate for people to be offended or feel like all their hard work was in vain...and that's not the point at, I appreciate the understanding. And yes, we may agree to disagree...but at the end of the day, none of it matters. All that matters is that we are brothers/sisters in Christ and can worship Him together...regardless of the forum! :0)