Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

I hope you have been benefiting from our Knowing Jesus series. In the most recent message, Experiencing Jesus in Missional Community (5 of 6), I shared how we’re called to know Jesus together in the church. As the apostle Peter said, we are individual stones that God wants to bring together and fashion into a building that houses the Spirit of God (1 Pet 2:5). Therefore, we need the church if we’re going to follow Jesus. In fact, if we’re not following Jesus with other disciples, we can’t grow in the way Christ intends.

As I said in the sermon, our regular participation in the personal and intimate spaces of the church creates a womb in the church for the Spirit to give birth to new creation. In other words, it’s through close-knit relationships—which have knowing Jesus at the center of them—that we can experience a greater level of church life, even new birth. What a wonderful image! And consider this: Why do we worship on Sunday? Why attend a Learning Community? Why serve on a commission? Why do we work hard to craft meaningful worship services? Why do we care about art, beauty, and liturgy? Why do we care about anything happening in the church? It’s because we’re seeking to know Jesus and make him known. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less.

Having grown up in the church, I admit that it’s easy to lose sight of that. And if you’ve been in the same church for a long time, it’s even more challenging. Therefore, it’s good to re-center ourselves from time to time. Do you need re-centering? Listen, I think community is a great thing. I like singing in worship. I appreciate traditions, history, holy habits, etc. Also, I’m grateful for friendships in the church. But the truth is that these things are ultimately meaningless if knowing Jesus and making him known isn’t at the heart of what we’re about as a church. Instead, it’s when we have a burning passion for the centrality and supremacy of Jesus that the Spirit is able to do all the good the Lord wants to do in us and through us. That is when we really shine! And that’s what our Knowing Jesus series is all about.

I hope you’ll join us this Sunday as we conclude our series with An Invitation to Follow Jesus before baptizing folks down at the creek. It’s going to be a special time together. Until then, as Paul prayed, I pray for you: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S. Join us Wednesday nights for a free meal and time of connection. Our Community Meal begins on September 11 at 5:00 pm and serves as an intersection between the church, college, and greater community. We offer this meal as a reflection of God’s table that’s open and freely available to all. Stop by and meet someone new. Good things happen at the table! Interested in volunteering? Contact Susan Bailey at slb613@verizon.net.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly Email From the Pastor and the Body Life, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers and Sisters,

Our Knowing Jesus sermon series continued this past Sunday with an excellent message by Pastor Kelly. If you missed it, check out Abiding in the Person of Jesus (4 of 6). Pastor Kelly directly addressed what it means to “abide” in Jesus rather than just know about Jesus. With examples like “the empty chair” story, she invited us to see prayer as simple conversation with Jesus.

So, I want to encourage you to relate to the Lord in that way. This is what the spiritual disciplines (e.g. prayer, Bible reading, fasting, worship, etc.) are all about: connecting with the living Jesus.

This coming Sunday I will be guiding us further into this series by considering what it looks like to experience Jesus in missional community. Yes, we should be talking to Jesus and cultivating a personal relationship with him, but we should also learn to know Jesus through the Body of Christ.

To use a phrase Dietrich Bonhoeffer liked, it’s about doing “life together” that we come to know Jesus and are able to follow him. Sure, Jesus publicly attracted crowds and he worked the social spaces (e.g. synagogue), but he also called his followers to come closer and know him in the personal and intimate spaces within his church. Join us in worship as we push back a bit on American individualism and imagine afresh what it looks like to see and hear Jesus in others who regularly gather as the family of God.

Until we gather again, I want to remind you that we (the church of Jesus) have been called to shine the light of the gospel on the darkness we see in the world around us. As citizens of heaven, that is our holy calling in this world. As the apostle Paul said to the Ephesians: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:8-11).

As your pastor, I want to encourage you not to join the cacophony of angry voices in American society when you seek to “expose” the evil deeds of darkness, but instead seek to be agents of peace and ministers of reconciliation as you prayerfully embody the presence of Christ in your places of influence. Speak the truth about racism, white supremacy, and all forms of violence against those made in God’s image, but do it with the love that Christ displayed on the cross, for it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance—it’s Calvary Love that identifies us with Jesus.

Finally, remember that our ultimate struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual evil in high places (Ephesians 6:12). These forces are at work blinding minds, hardening hearts, stirring up fear and hate, turning us against one another, and exploiting the weak and vulnerable.

Do not succumb to these demonic powers. Rise above it, church. Trust in the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our persistent prayers, our radical hospitality, and our generous acts of kindness. Put your trust in Christ and act out of your true identity and allegiance.

And may the Lord strengthen us as we continue to do the work of the Kingdom.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly Email From the Pastor and the Body Life, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers and Sisters,

We’re now half-way through our Knowing Jesus series. If you’ve been out and about on vacation, I hope that you’re able to stay caught up with where we’ve been in this series that goes to the very heart of our faith. This past Sunday I talked about the paradoxical nature of Jesus being both Lord and friend. You can listen to Making Jesus Your Lord & Friend (3 of 6) at our website or at our podcast.

This coming Sunday Pastor Kelly will preach on Abiding in the Person of Jesus (4 of 6). In preparation for that message, Pastor Kelly invites you to listen to a brief reflection (12 minutes) on John 15:1-8, which will be the focal text for Sunday’s sermon. This meditation is made available through the online resource that I mentioned two weeks ago – Pray As You Go.  Each meditation includes a song, a Scripture reading, and a few reflection questions. You can access the mediation by clicking here: Pray As You Go, Abide in Me. Check it out! And consider getting the app on your smart phone or other mobile device.

Also, I’d like to remind you about our bookshelf next to the church mailboxes in the lobby. This shelf is an extension of our church library. We’re blessed to have such a large library with our very own librarian, Edie Asbury. As you may know, we display many books and resources there that are related to previous sermon series and current ones. We have now set up a shelf for our Knowing Jesus series where you can find suggested reading for deeper study and help with your spiritual formation. You can check out a book to take home or just browse the books and purchase your own copy online.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with some encouraging words from the Apostle Peter who said this about our relationship to Jesus: “You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). May we continue to deepen our trust in this Jesus we’ve not seen with our eyes but that we’re experiencing by his Spirit, that he would be our source of life, strength, and hope that God will complete the work he began in us when we first believed. Amen.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  We were saddened to hear about the recent passing of Emory Shughart. There will be a time of visitation with the family at 1:00, followed by a memorial service at 2 PM on Saturday, August 3rd at Ronan Funeral Home in Carlisle, PA. All are welcome to attend a meal to be held at the Boiling Springs Fire Hall following the Memorial Service. If you wish to express a condolence online, please visit www.ronanfh.com.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly Email From the Pastor and the Body Life, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

The heatwave is now behind us and we have cooler temperatures ahead. I hope you’re able to enjoy the weather at home or the beach, wherever you’re at this week.

This past Sunday we continued our Knowing Jesus series with a message entitled, Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? (2 of 6). We began the series with how Jesus ought to be at the center of everything, but  if Jesus is to be central and supreme in our life and church, we need to ask, “Which Jesus?” Not only do we see many competing portraits of Jesus in the world today, but we’re all tempted to fashion Jesus in our own image. I unpacked that a bit and challenged us to come to know that the Jesus of history and of faith are one and the same, as revealed to us in the Gospels of the New Testament.

As the disciple John said: “We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy” (1 John 1:3-4).

So, how can we be sure that we’re coming to know the Jesus who was seen and touched by his first followers?

  1. We accept the entirety of the apostolic testimony about Jesus as recorded in the Gospels & the Epistles of the NT;

  2. We shouldn’t selectively read or cherry-pick verses that prop up a monochrome Jesus of our own bias, culture, politics, etc.;

  3. We read, reflect, and meditate on the Jesus of the NT and are being visibly transformed by his person through prayer, worship, & missional community.

Transformation is what naturally happens when you’re coming to know the real Jesus. It’s true that when we’re deepening a relationship with Christ are lives will change over time. Our views and beliefs change. The way we feel about our neighbors and our enemies will change. We will continue to inch closer and closer to the likeness of Jesus. This is discipleship. This is what spiritual growth is all about.

How is that going for you? Are you becoming more like Jesus in any observable way? Are you becoming more loving and less judgmental? Have you given up a belief/idea or repented of anything lately that you know conflicts with Christ? Are you experiencing the joy that comes from accepting Jesus’ teachings? These are just a few questions to consider as you reflect on your own faith journey with Jesus.

Remember, if we want to come to know Jesus as a living person, the place to begin is by spending time reading, listening, and reflecting on the Jesus of the Gospels so that we can enter into his presence and encounter him in fresh ways. And then we go one step further by talking to this Jesus and allowing him to speak to us. The more we do this the more natural it will become. Therefore, I want to encourage you to pick one of the four Gospels and begin today. Read and sit with Jesus. Ask him, “Lord, what are you saying to me?” And then watch how the Spirit works!

Finally, if you’re in town this weekend, I hope you’ll join us for worship and the next installment of our Knowing Jesus series. This Sunday we will consider what it means to make Jesus both our Lord and our friend. Until then, may you know the peace and joy that comes from trusting in Jesus to meet all of your needs.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly Email From the Pastor and the Body Life, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

We launched our six-week Knowing Jesus series this past Sunday with the message, Nothing Greater Than Jesus. In this first sermon, I invited us to consider the centrality and supremacy of Jesus over all things in our lives and in the universe. God the Father exalted Jesus, the Word made flesh, to the highest place. Therefore, Jesus is the very reason we exist and the way by which we can experience the fullness of life. So, when knowing this Jesus is at the center of our life, we become more and more human—seeing and experiencing the world the way he did.

That is what the apostle Paul meant when he said, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10-11). Paul wanted to grow into Christ’s very own image, even to the point of suffering! He understood that the more he got to know the person of Jesus, the more he would see the world through his eyes, feel what he felt (i.e. joys and sorrows), and experience the power of God working through him. Paul said that everything else is garbage.

You see, for Paul, knowing Jesus wasn’t about learning stuff, though that can certainly be helpful. Instead, knowing Jesus was and is about embodying his Spirit and living the way he lived, which is what God wants for all of humanity. In other words, the whole point of Christianity and the work of the church—the irreducible minimum of our faith—is that we would come to know Jesus and be transformed by walking with him in a real relationship. And that’s what this series is all about.

Remember, if you’re coming and going at the end of summer, you can stay connected and follow the sermons at our website or at the Grantham Church Podcast on iTunes. Sermons are online by the end of the day on Monday. Thank you for listening, reflecting, and applying what God is speaking to us through our weekly messages.

Until we gather again, may the Holy Spirit continue to stir our hearts and give us a hunger for more of God’s presence and power at Grantham Church.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  Don’t forget to mark your calendars for baptisms at the creek on Sunday, August 18. That is also the last Sunday of our sermon series. If you’re interested in being baptized this summer, please contact the church office ASAP. You can email us at office@granthamchurch.org.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly Email From the Pastor and the Body Life, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

It was good to be back in the pulpit this past Sunday. I addressed a topic that has become increasingly difficult to talk about in our post-Christian culture, which generally tends to scoff at the idea of the devil, demons, and spiritual warfare. I mentioned that 40% of Christians in the US believe that the devil is merely a symbol of evil, not a personal agent of evil. About 20% aren’t sure. This is a disturbing trend and it reveals that a growing number of Christians are denying something that the Bible teaches is a fundamental aspect of reality. How can we oppose the real enemy if the church doesn’t believe he exists?

In a message entitled Not Against Flesh & Blood, I began by sharing a personal experience with the appearing of a dark figure in my college dorm room. I believe this demonic attack was in response to my commitment to passionately pray with a sense of urgency for family, friends, my church, and some of the worst of sinners. I was even praying for rock stars that were associated with the occult and Satanism. Needless to say, I had gotten the attention of the “principalities and powers” (Eph 6:12). I didn’t grow up in a “charismatic” church, but this event definitely impacted the way I view prayer.

From there I invited us to consider what the Scriptures teach regarding the spiritual fight we’re in as followers of Jesus. I said that our worldview will shape the way we pray. If we believe that everything happens because God wants/wills it (even evil things), then we are far less likely to revolt against evil in the world. We will probably not see the real enemy (Satan), pray with a sense of urgency, or pray in the way that we ought. So, accepting that God is revealed in Jesus as the One who stands apart from evil, and calls us to oppose the darkness in all its forms, has made it possible for me to see that we’re in a real battle of the wills. That’s what I hope we will embrace. We can shape the future, for better or for worse. We can act or not act. We can engage or disengage. Our decisions matter.

Remember, we pray “thy will be done” (as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer) because clearly God’s will is not always done. Therefore, God calls us to cry out for more of the Kingdom through prayer and join him in resisting the devil (James 4:7). May we be a church that acknowledges this truth and corporately utilizes prayer as a spiritual weapon against the forces of darkness in the heavenly realms. Let us passionately pray with a sense of urgency for our family, friends, our church, and those who have great power to influence the world around us.

Finally, if you’re in town this weekend, please join us for worship at 10:30 am as we kick off a 6-week summer series called, Knowing Jesus – A Worship Series for Saints & Sinners. You will find a summary of the series in a bulletin insert this Sunday. The first sermon in the series is called, Nothing Greater Than Jesus. I look forward to worshipping with you as we consider what it means to make knowing Jesus our greatest passion and pursuit in life.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  Grantham Church will be offering meeting space to Eileen Gardner, a Professional Counselor and recent graduate of Messiah’s Graduate Counseling Program. Eileen is a long-time member of Mechanicsburg BIC Church. She will be meeting with people at Grantham Church on Tuesdays, from 8am -12 pm and Thursdays, 5pm -9 pm. Eileen will be offering a special reduced rate to clients associated with our church. Interested in scheduling an appointment?  Contact Eileen at egardnercounseling@gmail.com or call 717-526-0943. Questions? Contact Pastor Kelly @kchripczuk@granthamchurch.org.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly Email From the Pastor and the Body Life, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org