Category: God at Work

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
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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

 

To Treasure What He Treasures

As our pastor closed the service last Sunday we were encouraged to be thoughtful of each other as we approach the holiday season since it’s a time of year when the losses of the past can become very real again. If you haven’t yourself experienced a season which left you longing again for someone you’ve lost you probably know someone who has. I looked around the sanctuary and really couldn’t see anyone to talk to as it seemed that if I was going to talk to anyone I’d have to butt into a conversation already taking place. I just stood there for a moment and realized really that’s a good problem to have.

Everywhere someone had moved over to engage and just ask “how are you doing?” listening as a friend opened up about life. To care with wisdom, love, and hope. To see that to love Christ is to treasure what He treasures. Serving Christ is often made more complicated than it needs to be. It is simply to love and treasure the same things He does. To see that what He treasures is what He has redeemed. Which means our treasure is our brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes we look to see God working among our church body in dramatic ways but often it’s simply coming to a realization that our brothers and sisters in Christ are our treasure instead of something we must put up with. To the extent we see that we will be able to enjoy and bring glory to God as he works among us. That is what I saw as I looked around the sanctuary last Sunday and what God was doing there wasn’t complicated but it was beautiful. This coming holiday season know that God will be at work in you who He has uniquely fashioned and equipped as you come alongside a brother or sister to declare His faithfulness.

“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20

  • David Ortiz