The following prayer was lifted up by Rick Warner (one of the Elder’s at the GCC@B) as we opened up our corporate worship service on September 11th, 2016. May each of us continue to pray accordingly.


“Father, this morning we are thankful that we can call you “Our Father.” We are reminded that you are also the Great I AM, who knows the end from the beginning. You are the Lord of All, who made the stars in the heavens and even now feeds the sparrow and clothes the Lily of the field. You are all­ knowing, all powerful, always present, eternal, and you demonstrated your love for us, that while we were yet sinners, you sent your son, Jesus Christ to die for us on the cross of Calvary.  We know that you have redeemed us for Your Glory and our Eternal Good.

Even with this knowledge, so much of what we see, feel, and experience remains a mystery to us and we are without answers.  As we pause this morning to reflect on the date of that terrible attack on our nation fifteen years ago, we ask for your comfort for our fellow Americans who lost family members and whose lives were torn apart in many other ways.  We give thanks for your men and women in uniform who protect our lives around the world in order to prevent the death and destruction on our soil that is present daily in the lives of millions of others, including our brothers and sisters in Christ in places like Syria.  We pray for our political leaders who must make grave decisions concerning the health and security of our nation and its people ­ decisions that send our military into areas of conflict and commit our country to battles in far away places.

Father, as we live during this time of great social change and cultural upheaval, help us to see that as your children, our greatest enemy is not in far away places, or with different ideologies or different color skin, but the forces that daily shape us and pull us away from you and your perfect law.  We are not just prone to wander, but we are systematically being transformed by the world around us, rather than being transformed by your Word through your Spirit.

Lord, help us to see the beauty of your Church, and the necessity of this covenant family over and above the shiny distractions surrounding us, and the ever-­growing consumer choice mentality, which has defined the American Church of our generation. Forgive us of our lukewarm devotion to Christ and one another and strengthen us for the difficult days ahead as our nation abandons the very principles that shaped its founding. Most importantly Father, let us be confident in your Gospel no matter how dark the times and let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to You, our God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”

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There may be circumstances in your earthly lot which at this moment are peculiarly trying. You look around and wonder how this or that circumstance will terminate. At present it looks very dark–clouds and mists hang over it, and you fear lest these clouds may break, not in showers upon your head, but burst forth in the lightning flash and the thunder stroke! But all things are put in subjection under Christ’s feet! That which you dread cannot take place except by His sovereign will–nor can it move any further except by His supreme disposal. Then make yourself quiet. He will not allow you to be harmed. That frowning providence shall only execute His sovereign purposes, and it shall be among those all things which, according to His promise, shall work together for your good. None of our trials come upon us by chance! They are all appointed in weight and measure–are all designed to fulfill a certain end. And however painful they may at present be, yet they are intended for your good. When the trial comes upon you, what a help it would be for you if you could view it thus, “This trial is sent for my good. It does not spring out of the dust. The Lord Himself is the supreme disposer of it. It is very painful to bear; but let me believe that He has appointed me this peculiar trial, along with every other circumstance. He will bring about His own will therein, and either remove the trial, or give me patience under it, and submission to it.”

Source: J.C. Philpot

(The Subjection of All Things Under the Feet of Jesus)

It may look like a church, sing like a church, have stained-glass like a church, and call itself a church, but be careful: It might not be a church.

Which Christianity

The big religion story of last year? Christianity is in decline in America. The sensational headlines were based on data from the Pew Research Center. But as Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research observed in the USA Today, the folks writing the headlines must not have read the study.

It turns out that almost all of the reported decline took place not among evangelicals, but in mainline Protestant denominations, which have been in freefall spiritually and numerically for decades. And no wonder. The “Christianity” preached in many of them sounds more like the Huffington Post opinion pages than the Bible.

Take the Episcopal Church, which in 2003 began ordaining openly gay clergy, and in 2015 created a marriage ceremony to bless same-sex couples. Earlier this month, a majority of bishops from the worldwide Anglican Communion voted to suspend the at a meeting in Canterbury voted to suspend the Episcopal Church’s voting rights over its support for homosexuality.

This decision, along with the statement from the primates reaffirming one-man-one-woman marriage was due in large part to the leadership of the African bishops. As Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America explained to me and Ed Stetzer on “BreakPoint This Week,” African Anglicans retain the traditional, biblical beliefs of the missionaries who planted their churches generations ago. And they feel abandoned by their American and European counterparts.

And it’s not just sexuality. Faithful believers in the United Methodist Church might wonder why UMC leadership recently rejected an application from the Discovery Institute to exhibit at their upcoming General Conference. Discovery, the think-tank at the heart of the Intelligent Design movement, appealed the decision, insisting that it isn’t a creationist front-group intent on teaching religion in schools. “[Intelligent Design],” Discovery said, “is a science—not a faith-based idea.” And though compatible with Christianity, it doesn’t rely on the Bible or even identify the “intelligent Designer.”

In response, United Methodist leaders reiterated the ban and refused to offer any further information, striking an odd discord with their denomination’s slogan: “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” Evidently the UMC is open to all ideas—except the idea that creation gives evidence of its Creator.

But the mainline denomination chucking historic faith with the most flair is the United Church of Christ, which recently declared on its Facebook page, “The Bible is like GPS—A brilliant guide. All-knowing. Occasionally wrong.” Another meme announced, “God is transgender,” and a third featured a picture of two men kissing with a verse from 1 John that said  “God is love.”

Of course, in all of these churches there are those who love and follow Jesus and His word. I’m not questioning their faith. What I’m questioning is whether their denominations can be called “Christian” in any meaningful sense any more. To riff an analogy from Peter Leithart, if I told you about a Thomas Jefferson who didn’t write the Declaration of Independence, wasn’t our third president, and didn’t live at Monticello, you’d be forgiven in wondering which Thomas Jefferson I was talking about.

As mainline clergy give sexual morality the heave-ho, call on God to bless abortion clinics, and blaspheme the Trinity, it’s probably time we ask which “Christianity” are you talking about?

J. Gresham Machen recognized nearly a century ago that some views that go by the  name Christianity are really a different religion altogether. Like the African bishops, orthodox believers everywhere need to be prepared to distance ourselves—not from people, but from a secular agenda masquerading as Christianity. More importantly, we’ve got to show the world what genuine Christian faith really looks like—how radical the Christian worldview is, and how truth and love must never be separated.

Source: John Stonestreet (Breakpoint Daily)

1. Because God is good. 1 Chronicles 16:34
2. Because it is a correct response to God’s righteousness. Psalm 7:17
3. Because the Lord helps us. Psalm 28:7
4. Because thanksgiving glorifies God. Psalm 50:23
5. Because His name is good. Psalm 54:6
6. Because thanksgiving magnifies God. Psalm 69:30
7. Because God is near to us. Psalm 75:1
8. Because God will ultimately deliver His people from their enemies. Psalm 79:13
9. Because it is a good thing to do. Psalm 92:1
10. Because God is faithful to all generations. Psalm 100:5
11. Because God’s steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 107:1
12. Because of God’s wondrous works. Psalm 107:8
13. Because God is our salvation. Psalm 118:21
14. Because He is our God. Psalm 118:28
15. Because God has exalted His own name and His word. Psalm 138:2
16. Because thanksgiving is a characteristic of righteous people.
Psalm 140:13
17. Because we are His workmanship and the recipients of His mercy. Psalm 145:9-10
18. Because His anger has been turned away from us. Isaiah 12:1
19. Because of Jesus’ example of giving thanks. Luke 22:19
20. Because others have heard an account of faithful believers.
Romans 1:8
21. Because we are no longer slaves to sin. Romans 6:17
22. Because we see God’s grace working in other believers.
1 Corinthians 1:4
23. Because we are given victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57
24. Because of answered prayer. 2 Corinthians 1:11
25. Because God works through believers to spread knowledge of Himself. 2 Corinthians 2:14
26. Because we are commanded to give thanks always and for everything. Ephesians 5:20
27. Because it is God’s will that we give thanks in all circumstances.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
28. Because we see God’s love demonstrated by other believers.
2 Thessalonians 1:3
29. Because God entrusts us with the task of serving Him. 1 Timothy 1:12
30. Because we remember believing friends. Philemon 1:4
31. Because we have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Hebrews 12:28
(Author: Susan Verstraete)
Know that the LORD, he is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100:3-5



Did you know that God commands us to be glad?

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)


1) God created us for his glory.

“Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth,… whom I created for my glory” (Isaiah 43:6-7)

God made us to magnify his greatness – the way telescopes magnify stars. He created us to put his goodness and truth and beauty and wisdom and justice on display. The greatest display of God’s glory comes from deep delight in all that he is. This means that God gets the praise and we get the pleasure. God created us so that he is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.


2) Every human should live for God’s glory.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

If God made us for his glory, it is clear that we should live for his glory. Our duty comes from his design. So our first obligation is to show God’s value by being satisfied with all that he is for us. This is the essence of loving God (Matthew 22:37) and trusting him (1 John 5:3-4) and being thankful to him (Psalm 100:2-4) It is the root of all true obedience, especially loving others (Colossians 1:4-5).


3) All of us have failed to glorify God as we should.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

What does it mean to “fall short of the glory of God?” It means that none of us has trusted and treasured God the way we should. We have not been satisfied with his greatness and walked in his ways. We have sought our satisfaction in other things, and treated them as more valuable than God, which is the essence of idolatry (Romans 1:21-23). Since sin came into the world we have all been deeply resistant to having God as our all-satisfying treasure (Ephesians 2:3). This is an appalling offense to the greatness of God (Jeremiah 2:12-13).


4) All of us are subject to God’s just condemnation.

“The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).

We have all belittled the glory of God. How? By preferring other things above him. By our ingratitude, distrust and disobedience. So God is just in shutting us out from the enjoyment of his glory forever. “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

The word “hell” is used in the New Testament twelve times – eleven times by Jesus himself. It is not a myth created by dismal and angry preachers. It is a solemn warning from the Son of God who died to deliver sinners from its curse. We ignore it at great risk.

If the Bible stopped here in its analysis of the human condition, we would be doomed to a hopeless future. However, this is not where it stops…


5) God sent his only son Jesus to provide eternal life and joy.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Timothy 1:15)

The good news is that Christ died for sinners like us. And he rose physically from the dead to validate the saving power of his death and to open the gates of eternal life and joy (1 Corinthians 15:20). This means God can acquit guilty sinners and still be just (Romans 3:25-26). “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Coming home to God is where all deep and lasting satisfaction is found.


6) The benefits purchased by the death of Christ belong to those who repent and trust him.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19). “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

“Repent” means to turn from all the deceitful promises of sin. “Faith” means being satisfied with all that God promises to be for us in Jesus. “He who believes in me,” Jesus says, “shall never thirst” (John 6:35). We do not earn our salvation. We cannot merit it (Romans 4:4-5). It is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is a free gift (Romans 3:24). We will have it if we cherish it above all things (Matthew 13:44). When we do that, God’s aim in creation is accomplished: He is glorified in us and we are satisfied in him – forever.


Does this make sense to you?

Do you desire the kind of gladness that comes from being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus? If so, then God is at work in your life.

What should you do?

Turn from the deceitful promises of sin. Call upon Jesus to save you from the guilt and punishment and bondage. “All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Start banking your hope on all that God is for you in Jesus. Break the power of sin’s promises by faith in the superior satisfaction of God’s promises. Begin reading the Bible to find his precious and very great promises, which can set you free (2 Peter 1:3-4). Find a Bible-believing church and begin to worship and grow together with other people who treasure Christ above all things (Philippians 3:7).


The best news in the world is that there is no necessary conflict between our happiness and God’s holiness. Being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus magnifies him as a great Treasure.

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)


Source: Desiring God Ministries (www.desiringgod.org)


Each year, the Shawnee Lodge hosts a retreat for Joni and Friends. This is a time for special needs families to come together and be ministered to through interaction with families in similar situations while provided lodging, meals and activities for all participants. The women of Grace Community Church at Bigelow have been blessed enough to be able to participate in serving dinner to the mothers that attend, in hopes of providing them a time of prayer, relaxing discussion with friends and a delicious meal prepared by the GCC@B women.

We were blessed to serve roughly 20 mothers who say that they look forward to this meal every year. So much so, that they request the same menu of chicken salad with fruit each year. Dinner was served and the GCC@B women were able to connect with some of the mothers as we joined them for dinner. Many of the mothers are local Ohio residents, but others come from as far away as Illinois and New York.

ladies2  ladies3 ladies6

After dinner and dessert, April Chaffins began our focus on worship by leading us in songs, followed by a brief message from Ginny Cook on prayer and trusting God. As a fitting close, we opened up a time of prayer requests from the mothers and were overjoyed to listen to many of them also had praises for what God had done or was doing in their lives.

ladies4 ladies5

We closed with a circle of prayer, but as is common when women and mothers gather, the evening discussions went on for a while after. Many of these mothers only see each other when they attend Joni and Friends, and as many only see the GCC@B women at this time as well, much catching up was to be done. It was a wonderful opportunity to serve those who give so much of their time to their special needs families. As is often the case, both those serving and those being served were ministered to through our time together.

Update provided by  Sarah Johnson

Nothing Will I Hold Onto….I Give it to Him!

(by Ginny Cook)


Pray to Pray. Pray for Prayer. Pray for the Spirit of supplication….Charles Spurgeon

Whatever God has made prominent in His word, he intended to be conspicuous in our lives. He commands us to Pray:

Devote Yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful, Colossians 4:2……Then you will call on me and com and pray to me and I will listen to you Jeremiah 29:12….The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth Psalm 145:18….Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

On Your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent.  You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.  Isaiah 62: 6-7

John Piper:  God , the creator of the Universe, who holds our life in His hands and rules the world, is the kind of God who loves to be asked for things.  The essence of prayer is the expression of our dependence on God through requests. We are weak; He is strong.  He is the giver; we are needy.  Resolve to pray to our creator every day, many times a day, living in a spirit of prayer.

Where to start?   Take steps to make prayer a central part of your life every day…saturate your day with prayer.  If you are doing nothing, do something.  If you want a continual daily life of pray, you will need to spend time alone with God in quiet communion. Give your day to the Lord and ask Him to order your day. Charles Spurgeon said,  “taking time to pray first is really a “saving of time”.  If we pray first, we get God’s perspective on the day and His perspective is always better.”  God wants to hear you “heart cries”. Mathew 6:6     Psalm 18:16

What if you don’t feel like praying or just cannot begin?….begin anyway. Martin Luther read the Psalms and prayed the Lord’s Prayer before praying to “warm his heart”.  (remember Romans 8: 26)

How to begin?   John Piper gives the unique but sound advice to pray in concentric circles…..like throwing a pebble in the water….the first prayer is for yourself.  Begin by praying for your own soul. Pray that God will awaken and strengthen and humble you before you can pray for others. Then pray for your family by name, you church family, your co-workers, you city….your  state ….our nation…the social and cultural issue of the world.   Not all at one time but that is a good direction for priorities. 1 Peter 4:7

Pray Scripture.  God’s word reveals God and His will.  What you want for yourself and those you pray for is more of God and more of His will.  Pray On The Full Armor of God every day for your protection.   Ephesians 1 :18

Pray in groups or with a prayer partner.  This is a very important aspect of praying. Two friends pray together, Families pray together, small groups pray together.  Together we encourage and support each other.  Hebrews 10: 23-25    James 5:16   Matthew 18:20  Ephesians 3: 20-21

The AMEN: (Martin Luther)  You must always say the “Amen” firmly. Never doubt that God in His mercy will surely hear you.   Never think that you are kneeling or standing alone, rather think that the whole of Christendom, is there beside you and you are standing among them in a common, united petition which God cannot disdain.

The Holy Bible:  The Lord God Almighty

                 John Piper: “Devote Yourselves To Prayer”/ Steve Miller:C. H. Spurgeon on Spiritual Leadership/Martin Luther: A Simple Way To Pray