From Pastor Peter 27-Dec-2013




Dear Grace Family,

One of our family traditions for Christmas is baking a birthday cake for Jesus (pictured below, and yours truly bought the gold & silver sprinkles).  Particularly with four young kids, it's one of the ways our family celebrates Christ's first advent as we enjoy this treat and even sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.  I say all that to say, our Christmas was a joyful time together for our family, and it's my hope and prayer the same can be said of your celebration earlier this week.


This Sunday

Birth stories.  Everyone has 'em, because everyone's been born (stunning logic, I know).  Technology has allowed people to share their birth stories on personal blogs and websites crafted specifically for parents to share the details of how their little ones made their entrance into the world.

The Bible has them, too.  Lots!  But there will never be a birth story that lights a candle to what we celebrated on Christmas just a few days ago.  Miraculously conceived in the womb of a young virgin named Mary, adopted into the house of David by Joseph, her soon-to-be-husband, fulfilling prophecies to the letter written long before either of them were alive, and all for one reason summed up in Matt. 1:21; to "save His people from their sins."  I'm looking forward to preaching the Word on Sunday one last time this year as we look at God's work in the womb of Mary, the heart of Joseph, all so that we could be saved and God glorified.

Next Sunday - Please pray!

Would you please start praying right now for the sermon I'll preach on Sun, 05-Jan?  It's my plan to use the sermon I preach this Sunday as a foundation for some vision-casting for our almost-1-year-old church as we kick off the New Year together next Sunday.  This post is long enough, so I'll leave it at that for now.  Bottom line, please pray for me as I continue to think, pray, study and prepare for my first sermon of the New Year next Sunday.

I'm very excited to preach live these next two Sundays at Newport and can't wait to worship our great God with you then.  See you on Sunday!


Much love in Christ,

Pastor Peter

From Pastor Peter 20-Dec-2013



Dear Grace Family,

Family Christmas Celebration - THIS SUNDAY!'

Sundays together are great, but some seem extra special.  I really think this is one of those.  This weekend we'll have our Family Christmas Celebration at church.  Spencer & I met earlier this week to discuss the order or worship, and he's picked some great worship songs for him and his team to lead us in.  The passages of Scripture we'll look at together will help to focus our minds on the advent of our Lord & Savior's birth, and we'll end by celebrating Communion together and celebrating what He came to do: willingly lay down His life so that people like us could be saved.  What a Savior!

Bring the Kiddies!

Although we'll have Nursery available for the littles, I'll take some time to call your older kiddos (5 & up) down to the first few rows of the theater and use that opportunity to address them specifically.  I look forward to presenting the Gospel to them, praying for them, and giving them a tasty treat as well. :)

Pray for our guests!

I sent a note to every family we had the privilege of serving in our Thanksgiving Outreach, inviting them to join us.  Some of you have told me you've personally reached out to the families you served to invite them, too.  That's great!  Consider inviting those you reached out to if you haven't already, and pray they'll come.

Lastly, who can you invite to join us on this special Sunday?  Got a friend or family member?  A coworker?  A cashier or store employee you'll interact with today or tomorrow? Invite them to celebrate Christmas with us.  And check out our Facebook ad and share it on your timeline. That helps to spread the word, too.

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.  We have a Savior!


Love in Christ,

Pastor Peter

A 'God-hunt' while in Papua New Guinea


This blog post comes from Linda Sprague, a team member on the recent Papua New Guinea trip.

Sometimes we don't see how God is at work and sometimes we aren't even looking for how God is at work in our daily life. We get so used to our day to day tasks that we assume upon the grace of God and neglect to pray and ask for God's help in the seemingly small chores or events. I have at times gone on a 'God-hunt', looking for Him and how He is answering prayers.

Recently I have had the opportunity to see God at work in big and small ways and want to share how you played a part in it. 

This summer after hearing about an opportunity to go to Malasiga, Papua New Guinea to assist Kim & Annie Colich, my husband Lee suggested we sign up to go on the 2 week long trip. We discovered we were on the team in late July and had many things to learn to prepare for the November trip. The work on the Colich village house would be difficult in the heat. We had to get our passports updated, prepare with immunizations against many possible diseases, consider how we would adjust to the heat and humidity and dwell in very small house for 10 days and travel half way around the world.


The team, Kevin & Jason Markesbery, Jeff Knutson, Valarie Bagwell and Lee & myself were very cognizant we would need much prayer to accomplish the preparation and the work. We saw God answer our prayers as we received passports back in record time. We saw God answer our prayers for the needed supplies and prep in PNG to be completed before our arrival. The solar power had to be updated before the power tools could be used on our assignment and two men helped Kim get the new solar system in place 2 weeks before our arrival. All the supplies and wood had to be shipped into Malasiga by boat and the wood siding was delivered a few days before we left.



As we prepared to leave, we made a prayer calendar to ask you to pray for the big adventure. We asked you to pray we would have hearts prepared for service and God saw fit to answer this by causing us to be ready to leave and excited about what we were to be participating in. We asked you to pray our flights and travel would go smoothly and safely. We saw God answer that request by providing a golf cart in LAX, a woman calling out 'connections to Brisbane...right here' and no unsettled stomachs as we hit turbulence over the Pacific...both directions!

We saw blessings of answered prayer as we adjusted quickly to the time change and the new culture. The men got started on the job by 7am the day after we arrived and put in 10 hour days in the 100 degree temperatures and 90 percent humidity. We saw God answer your prayers for health and strength in these conditions. As the days went by, there were so many times as we sat down at the day's end to recount what had happened and proclaim how thankful we were for God's provision of strength, health, grace and protection that day. We sensed that many people were praying for us and the Colich's through these days. The days seem to go quickly with so much work to be done. The wood siding, rain gutters and window screens were all replaced in 7 days and we were amazed at what was accomplished.



One day in particular was very difficult as we were all very tired and the heat was getting to us, I really sensed I had to step over by the ocean front and pray. God saw us through that day and the next few days went more smoothly too. What an amazing God to bless me with clarity and an urgent need to come into His presence. 

It was a great joy to be with Kim and Annie and experience life with them and be grateful for how God continues to give them what is needed to serve in Malasiga. As we stood in the village chapel that hot Sunday in PNG, I was reminded that in heaven we will rejoice around God's throne with people from every tribe, tongue, people and nation!

Thank you for your faithfulness to pray and to give financially to the missions Grace Fellowship supports around the world.

From Pastor Peter 13-Dec-2013





Dear Grace Family,

This Sunday

This Sunday we’ll begin celebrating one of the greatest truths in all of the Bible – the incarnation of Jesus Christ – that God took on flesh and stepped down into our world.  We're going to start in one of the most unlikely places – a genealogy.  We’ll dig into the first chapter of Matthew where Pastor Brad will show us some ‘grace nuggets’ that are tucked down into this list of ‘so and so begot so and so, who begot so and so.’  Our God is a God of grace, and you can trace His grace through all of the Bible – including genealogies.  To get your heart ready for Sunday, go ahead and read Matthew chapter 1, as it will prepare you for where we’re headed.

Save the Date!

It's back by popular demand - the 2014 Married Couples’ Dinner Dance.  Mark your calendar for Friday, Jan. 31.  There will also be a ‘Dance Lesson’ night (not required) with Durran Alexander the week before at the Florence Campus (Friday night, Jan. 24).  Click HERE for registration details.

Sprucin' up the Place

Some from both Florence & Newport have put some thought and care into decorating the theater for Christmas (we dropped some stuff of at the theater earlier this week).  Since I won't be there to see it, would you take some pics for me?  Post them to Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram, and use the hashtag #GFCNPTChristmas13.  I'll be looking for them after church!

Missing you one last time

For the last time this year, I'll not be with you at church this Sunday as I'm preaching at our Florence campus.  However, I'm especially excited to not only be worshiping with you again, but am particularly looking forward to preaching at Newport for three consecutive Sundays starting next week on 22-Dec for our Family Christmas service.  More to come on all that soon.


God bless,

Pastor Peter

November 2013 Forum Recap

A few weeks ago, many from the Newport Campus got together at our second Forum to discuss a variety of topics.  Since many of you weren't able to attend, here's a quick recap...


Thank you, Bob Smith!  He's our Dir. of Operations, and he took the time to walk us through a financial report including YTD spending & giving, a forecast for 2013 year-end, and a presentation on the budget the Deacons put together for 2014.  UPDATE: That budget was unanimously approved by the congregation at our Business Meeting last night.

Candidates for Elders & Deacons were introduced.  These included Elders & Deacons who were "re-upping for another 3-year term (Elders Bob Greenwood & Rob Lohrmann; Deacon Don Price) and those who were coming on for the first time (new Elder JD Rogers; new Deacons Lloyd Conley & Doug Ortenzi).  UPDATE: All candidates were approved by ballot vote at our Business Meeting last night.

"Newport By The Numbers" was exciting to share.  #'s continue to be very encouraging, indicating a consistent upward trend in both area reach and Sunday morning visitors.  #FunFact: More than half of the visitors we've seen this year have come since August.

Our motivation for serving is something that has been on my heart for years, quite frankly, but is heightened as I've had the privilege of leading GFC Newport this past year.  As an Elder, I know one of our desires & prayer requests is for God to establish a "culture of serving" at GFC.  God has been VERY faithful to us at GFC Newport in raising up people to serve wholeheartedly in a variety of areas, which has gotten us off to a great start.

But...it's December.

And you're tired.

And I'm tired.

And it's darker and colder nowadays as you continue to tirelessly serve to get this thing off the ground.

On the one hand, it really is the most wonderful time of the year in this guy's opinion.  I love Christmas time!  On the other hand, this is also the time of year where adding anything to my calendar tends to make me wanna punch myself in the face because...well, like I said; I'm tired, and it's just a very busy month and season.

Here's the bottom line: If you don't have a "why" for doing what you do that's rooted in the Gospel, you won't experiencing long-lasting, fruitful ministry in serving.  You'll only serve for the short-run.

In Rom. 12:1, Paul beseeches the church at Rome to present themselves as "living sacrifices," and goes on to call this "reasonable."  However, he doesn't simply say "put up & shut up," or give a tear-jerking speech followed by an altar call with every head bowed, every eye closed, reassuring them the buses will wait.

He refers them back to the mercies of God.  In view of God's mercy to us, sending His Son to bear our guilt and shame and not treating us as we deserve, our only reasonable, logical response is to be living sacrifices for Him, and to do so in an act of worship; not merely of meeting a need (pragmatism), not just because we're told to (obedience).  We serve as an act of worship because of the grace & mercy of God shown to us in Jesus Christ.

More to come on that, I promise.  Stay tuned.


Our next Forum is scheduled for Monday night, 13-Jan, 7:00 PM at the Florence campus (which seems like our best option at this time since we can provide childcare for those who need it).  I know, I know...one more thing!  But don't worry...we'll both feel better about it after the New Year.  {;-)


Love in Christ,

Pastor Peter

From Pastor Peter 06-Dec-2013





Dear Grace Family,

This Sunday


How much are you grateful for the great gift 'access' to the Gospel?  We can freely (and painlessly) hear the good news that Jesus Christ has died and rose again to pay for our sins.  Now consider that in vast parts of this world, that simple, radical, eternity-changing message has barely (or never!) been proclaimed.  Consider the peace, the fellowship, the love, the truth that we enjoy as we gather with our brothers and sisters each week...and how few people on this globe are able to experience that.
The message this Sunday is 'Engage the Nations'.  How can you prepare?
  • Pray God would give us thankful hearts, ready to praise God for what He has done and what He purposes to do.
  • Pray God would give us a holy discontent for the unfinished work before us.
  • Pray God would give us a willing heart, ready to hear the call of God.  

Thanksgiving Outreach Follow-up Plan
Several of you have asked me about follow-up plans for the families we reached out to in our Newport Thanksgiving Outreach that we participated in earlier last week.  Many have decided to contact the families they blessed on their own, which I think is great!  As far as what are plans are as a church, I will be sending them a note to thank them for welcoming us into their homes & giving us the opportunity to serve, and to invite them to church for our Christmas service on Sun, 22-Dec.  If you're among those who are reaching out to the families you served last week, join me in inviting them to join us as we worship our great God together, and pray God would stir them to come!
Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!  In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful winter weather.
{;-)

Love in Christ,
Pastor Peter
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