Category: God at Work

A New Season of Ministry for LCC

Friends,

Welcome back to our Elder Blog, and a chance for us to regularly express those things on our hearts to you, for the good and growth of God’s work in our midst. It’s our version of “getting a cup of coffee” together. We want to do everything we can to communicate how we are thinking about these days of change for our church family so that you can be praying intelligently with us for God’s will to be done!

For the 2018-2019 Ministry Year, these are the following “themes” we as elders will be writing our blogs around. We hope our words, while simple and short, will be an encouragement to you in our spiritual growth together as a Body!

1. Worship is a Corporate Activity
Of course everything we do is to be worship, no division of the secular and sacred, but perhaps it would be helpful in our individualistic age to communicate truth related to “being together” in those things God has called us to as the Church. We can get so isolated (and alone), thinking “that’s mine to carry” when perhaps more can be done to involve others (the Body) in that aspect of life and ministry.

2. The Need to Appropriate Truth
Sorry, I couldn’t think of a different word for appropriate, but this is what we are hoping our “Family Life” hour will be on Sunday mornings. Taking the truth declared (preaching), and working it out together (life) … or appropriating truth. This is an essential part of growing as a disciple (not the only thing in discipleship). Being able to take information (head), and apply it thoughtfully to life (heart, will). We hope to be a help in unfolding and detailing that process of taking great theological data and getting it transferred into the transformation of our lives.

3. Stories of Grace
We want you to get to know us more and more as we share stories of our own, or some of yours (Please share them with us!). We regularly need to see clear examples of God working through weak people. His grace is sufficient, so we say ‘my pleasure’ to weakness, and His power rests on, and works through, us. WOW … let’s never stop glorying in that together and celebrating it happening!

4. What We are Building
We are building a building, but not focused on building a building but building … what? People, Worship, Fellowship, Unity, Vision, Families, etc. We will use this “blog theme” to talk about what matters to us as leaders of the local church that we want to see built into us all with the days God gives us.

May these be rich rich days of growth for the mission of the Gospel at Leroy Chapel!

  • Pastor Mark
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Thank You Lord For The Local Church

We come to the end of yet another ministry year here at LCC and we as Staff and Elders couldn’t be more delighted at all that God has done in your lives and the life of our church family! The only fitting response it praise to the Father, Son, and Spirit for the fruit He produces in His children. We have seen marvelous growth through suffering, sorrow, joy and change. Thank you Lord for the local church called Leroy Chapel. We see you at work and we take no credit, simply ask for your glory to be on display more and more in the coming days!

This year in our Elder Blog we focused on the Vision Statement of Leroy Chapel – “To prayerfully advance Christ’s kingdom through: evangelizing, teaching, leadership development, and building the community of Gods people for the glory of God.” Our desire has been to help “work out” that vision with additional teaching each week that gets us all thinking about our role in the mission and vision of the church. We hope we served you well. If you have time, read back through some of the entries you may have missed. They are all tagged by the categories of  “LCC Vision”. But most of all, pray for God to do above and beyond what we could ask or imagine at your local church this summer and in the upcoming ministry year. We make plans, but God directs our steps, and we wouldn’t want it any other way!

  • Mark Spansel

Celebrate, Rest, and Go Deeper

Friends,

We’ve come to the last Elder blog of the 15-16 ministry year (sniff sniff), and we want to express great gratitude to the Lord for His mercy and grace through you all to us as Elders and to God’s people at LCC.  Every one of you is vital to the life, growth, and joy of the mission of God in your local church.  As we see the culture of LCC grow and change into a more Gospel-centered, honest, and free place, we see the Spirit of God bringing us all to a richer delight in all that Jesus is for us.  We couldn’t be more thankful for the “many members” that make the “one body” … and how He uses the people of God to grow the people of God!

So, celebrate all that God is doing in your life and the life of your church family.  Walking in grace and truth isn’t always easy, but with The Helper, it is full of blessing.  Some hidden, some hard, and some staring wonderfully in your face calling out praise and thanksgiving.  Whatever the case, celebrate it!  We’d love to hear how God has grown you through this ministry year – would you mind jotting down a brief testimony of God at work in your story and passing it on to us via email, the LCC Facebook page, or even just an old fashioned piece of paper dropped in the mail or offering bag.

As the summer months are now upon us, and the schedule changes a bit, we sure hope you have a chance to rest.  Not just physically … but through times of play and recreation, times of reading and study, hikes, walks, bike rides, and cool evenings with family and friends on the deck.  Take a vacation, but don’t take a vacation from the Lord.  Please do your best to make Sunday corporate worship a priority, time in the Word a continued discipline, and praying with brothers and sisters an indispensable part of your spiritual rest.  Those are some of the things that will be used by the Spirit for your refreshment.

And lastly, go deeper.  Don’t settle for where you are, dream for where God wants you to be.  The journey is long and tomorrow isn’t promised.  So shake off old habits, put away the sin that so easily entangles, and run the race with joy that has been set before you.  We are already making plans for a great 16-17 ministry year and we can’t wait for all that God is going to do in and through you, and the body of LCC, in the months ahead.

  • The Elders

 

Sinner, Sufferer, and Saint

“If I am the chief of sinners, I am the chief of sufferers also.” (Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)

There are days that I feel too much like the Jekyll and Hyde of Stevenson’s imagination.  There are days I wake up as well intentioned as Dr. Jekyll. Yet in one lax exchange I can become Mr. Hyde.  In a moment of fear and pride the inclinations of my flesh take over.  Everyone around me sees the fruit; an argumentative spirit, a defensive posture, a lazy hour, a boastful smile, brooding isolation.  Go read Paul’s explanation of this craziness in Roman 7.

In Stevenson’s story, Dr. Jekyll has no help to escape his growing sensation of guilt and “out of control.”  Mr. Hyde’s appetite was increasingly evil and he was ever blind to his motivations.  And this right up to the tragic end.  I’m so glad to know this is where fantasy and reality part ways!  Even in the worst of our stories, our reality is far more hopeful!  Paul’s Roman’s 7 ends with “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  And we all know the triumphant proclamation of Roman’s 8:1!

This is ever saints story.  I was reminded of the sweetness of this life we live in Christ as I sat with a friend, broken and repentant over sin.  The Holy Spirit had interrupted their life and brought clarity to the needy state of their heart.  With truth and counsel there is now a growing thoughtfulness of the affects of their sin on others; family members, the church, the community.  And even mid sentence tears of brokenness are not devoid of a sweetness of worship and gratitude expressed to our God.  I was encouraged and reminded that though there is very real suffering from the affects of sin, there is also hope in our gracious God who did not spare even His own son for the redemption of people like us.

Be encouraged church!  God is changing us!

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven…” Colossians 1:21-23

  • Jeff Pierce

Atheists in Foxholes and Christians at Work

Some of you may know that I work with David Ortiz. David and I have worked together, in various ways, shapes and forms since 1989. We’ve worked as coworkers, we’ve worked as customer and supplier, I’ve been David’s boss and today he’s my boss. It’s kind of weird now that I think about it; I can’t think of two other people with as long and as varied a work relationship as David and I have.

Now, to add another layer of complexity, we’ve also worked together as believer and non-believer: David being the believer and me being the non-believer. That was, in fact, the state of our relationship from 1989 through 2000, when I became a believer. For reasons I understand now but that were oblivious to me then, David had targeted me through those years we worked together as believer and non-believer.

Not every day, but on a regular basis, David would engage me in an ontological discussion. I use that $10 word, “ontological,” by the way, because it captures my hard-hearted, intellectual, arms-length view of God and faith at that time and, at least, MY approach to our talks. Ontology is the word secular philosophers use to describe a discussion on the nature of being and faith; I picked it up in a college philosophy class. Ontology is, essentially, the opposite of pursuing a personal relationship with God.

Remarkably, my desire to keep our conversations intellectual and impersonal never seemed to deter David. Nor did my attempts to knock him off his Christian horse. I remember one time glibly remarking, “You know the old expression, ‘There are no atheists in foxholes’? I think there’s a corollary to that saying relating to our conversation: ‘There are no Christians in the workplace.’” I thought that was a really clever rejoinder to whatever David had been saying to me, my point being that whatever people considered themselves outside of work they didn’t much act like Christians at work.

David reacted like I’d physically hit him. “Oh man, that’s convicting,” he said. I was confused by his response. Convicting how? Why? For whom? I had no idea what he was talking about and wouldn’t until many years later. At the time I just shrugged it off as one of those mysterious things David would sometimes say and moved on to thinking about what I was going to have for lunch.

Fast forward maybe ten years and you would find David and me praying together in that very same conference room where I’d tossed off my “Christians in the workplace” comment and I am asking Christ into my life. How’d that happen? The version of myself from ten years earlier would have been shocked. Frankly, I’m still kind of shocked, even in retrospect.

How that happened is that David never allowed me to chase him away and kind of held down the fort until another important believer (my future wife) entered the picture. I know I often think that evangelizing is something special or heroic or hard to do, something outside the realm of normal, routine living. And there’s no doubt that evangelizing CAN be that, but I think evangelizing is likely more often accomplished by believers living their everyday lives openly and authentically, by giving their non-believing family, friends and coworkers a clear, unobstructed view into a Christ-centered life.

You know, it doesn’t only have to be atheists at work; Christians get to roam there as well.

  • Paul Burkholder

Quiet Reflection

I enjoy all kinds of maps: road maps, historical maps, and even those zany marketing maps that highlight retail specialty stores to find and explore. When Angie and I travel to a vacation spot, the first thing we are likely to do is “find a map” and plot our adventures to the places we wish to visit.

However, there are adventures you cannot map – the future is uncertain. Tomorrow our lives may abruptly change by a serious illness or the devastating loss of a loved one. It is as though day we are cruising down I-90, a bright sunny day and the wind is at our backs; then, WHAM, life goes from sunny to stormy and the roadway circuitous. What is the believer to do when life goes catawampus?

Two years ago this month, that was my story. The Sovereign of All Creation took me on a personal journey. It was scary. I thought I had a stomach ache and I learned I needed a quadruple heart bi-pass. Interestingly, in my crisis, He intervened in my storm; there was peace, no panic. It was amazing grace. As I lay there in my hospital room, before surgery and the immediate days that followed, I began to remember the Bible stories and scripture verses I learned in my youth, with remarkable clarity. The peace from the Father’s hand was profoundly comforting in my turmoil. One of my favorite passages is Moses’ exhortation to the Hebrews Children at Joshua’s commissioning, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6. Or my Savior’s promise, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. In the potential fright of a hospital ICU, I found rest, in Him. I knew that my faithful God, who preserved me in the past, held me in the present and assured me of a confident future. I am not suggesting that I knew I would not die. No, to the contrary, at the time I did not know my physical destiny but I was certain of future care at my Heavenly Father’s Hand.

As a sojourner in this world I take great comfort in and thankful for God’s Word and His abiding Spirit who guides me as I journey. Although my earthly habit may be to reach for a road map, I possess things much greater than a map. I am a child of an all-knowing God, who carries me along; with each step I have “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” Psalm 119:105.

  • Selby Brannon

God’s Hand in Tough Everyday Decisions

This past Saturday, we celebrated our traditional Christmas get-together here in northeast Ohio (a week early). Our son-in-law, daughter and two grandchildren traveled from Pittsburgh to celebrate us. This coming week-end we will travel to Pittsburgh to celebrate with our kids and grandchildren. No different than many other families, as kids get married and move away, the traditions of the holidays we grew up with need to be somewhat altered.

Getting everyone together this past week-end had been planned for some time, everyone was on the same page. Then our son-in-law’s grandmother’s health took a turn for the worse. That said, a couple days before the kids were to come to northeast Ohio, the grandmother was taken from the hospital and placed in Hospice. Our son-in-law struggled with the idea of leaving his grandmother at such a time to come to Ohio for the family Christmas get-together, at the same time, he struggled with not being at the Christmas get-together with his family. 

The decision was made our daughter and grandchildren would drive up on Friday, our son-in-law would possibly come Saturday depending upon his grandmother’s situation. As you can imagine, our son-in-law’s thoughts and emotions were all over the place. What to do, what not to do, what is the right thing to do. One of the doctor’s at Hospice sat and had conversation with our son-in-law. The doctor listened as our son-in-law explained his situation. The doctor wisely gave counsel to our son-in-law. She explained that while it was honorable for our son-in-law to have concern about his grandmother, our son-in-law’s number one responsibility was to his immediate family. This counsel helped our son-in-law a great deal with direction.

Saturday, our son-in-law joined the family in Ohio for our traditional Christmas get-together. As I watched him and our daughter help our grandchildren open their presents (amongst all the chaos of all the family tearing open their presents, the laughter, the noise of everyone talking at the same time) I was quietly blessed.  

Our son-in-law spent the night, Sunday morning was informed his grandmother’s health took a turn for the worst. He headed back to Pittsburgh and got to spend time with his grandmother who passed Sunday afternoon.

As I consider all that happened the past week-end, God’s hand was in all of it! Praise God from whom all blessing flow.

 – Lynn Stephens