Tates Creek Christian Church

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Archive for the tag “The Grace Foundation”

Grace is our Foundation

The theme of the series we are involved in right now is “The Grace Foundation.”  When I hear the word “foundation,” a building project automatically comes to my mind.  You see, I have been a builder all of my life.  From the time I was a little boy I have been nailing boards together, and through the years learned enough to build my own home and build church buildings as a licensed contractor.  Because of my tendency to want to always nail boards together, my longsuffering wife has had to live in a continual construction zone, as I can’t stop myself from fixing what I see wrong or changing something that could be improved upon.  Just ask her, she’ll tell you of the many messes she’s had to live with through the years we’ve been married.  Right now she’s dreading the next project in our home as I am going head to head with a continually cracking spot of sheetrock.  I say continually cracking because I’ve already patched it 3 times.  That tells me something else needs to be done.  You see the floor is sagging because it’s improperly supported.  I know the solution is to support the sagging floor with a foundation.  Problems always occur in a building when it is inadequately supported.

Now forgive me for using that very earthy illustration, but that is why our efforts at multiplication often fail.  They are not supported, not built upon grace.  I’m reminded of what the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 2 where he said, “You are saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”  He says the foundation of our salvation is grace and grace is the solution for every life that is like a cracked wall.  Grace is the solution for lives that are like sagging floors, and, brothers and sisters, there are certainly a lot of people we encounter every day who are sagging floors and cracked walls.  Broken people are everywhere around us.

Now, to return to my analogy, that crack in the wall doesn’t bother my wife.  She knows a crack in the wall means a whole lot of mess if I undertake fixing it.  The trouble is, cracks in the wall trouble me.  I see the crack every time I walk thru the room and I can’t help myself, I have to fix it.  I know it will mean a mess, and I admit I often underestimate the time, effort, and money it will take, but again, I have to do it….It’s in my DNA.  Now the question for each of us is, are we bothered by the cracks in the wall or not?  Can we overlook broken people like my wife can overlook a crack in the wall?  Unfortunately, we far too often can and do because we look at their lives as being one big mess….a mess we don’t want to get involved in.  The reality is, however, that is not our DNA.  In that Ephesians passage on grace Paul speaks to those of us who have received that sure foundation, and he says we have been “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”   That work is foundation repair.   Yes, it is a messy work.  Yes, we’ll have to get our hands dirty.  Yes, it will be time consuming and effort filled, but people need that sure foundation in their lives.  People need the Lord Jesus Christ and the grace He gives.  Isn’t our DNA demanding that of us?  The words of an old song speak a timely truth for us all.

“We are called to take His light to a world where wrong seems right.

What would be too great a cost for sharing life with one who’s lost?

Through His love our hearts can feel all the grief they bear.

They must hear the words of life only we can share.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord 

At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.

When will we realize that we must give our lives?

For people need the Lord.

People need the Lord.”

Tell me brothers and sisters, how’s your DNA?

Kim Beckwith

The Sustenance of Grace – Ephesians 3:13-21

When I was first asked to write about the sustenance of Grace, I had to pause.  Sustenance is not a word that most of us use in our daily vocabulary.  I found three different definitions for sustenance in my
Webster’s dictionary.  The definition that I think most applies to grace is “that which sustains life; nourishment or food.”

God’s grace is definitely life-sustaining.  Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus in Ephesians 3:14-17 “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  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.”  Thru God’s grace we have the incredible power of the Holy Spirit filling and feeding our souls on a daily basis.  Paul encourages us in Ephesians 3:19 to “be filled with all the fullness of God.”  We all fill our hearts and minds daily with something.  The world and Satan constantly tempt us to fill ourselves with temporary, earthly pleasures.  These are the equivalent of spiritual junk food.  It is so much healthier spiritually to ask the Holy Spirit and God’s word to fill us.

Many years ago someone taught me that GRACE was God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.  God was kind enough to give me a vivid illustration of grace today just before I started writing this devotion.  After eating dinner by myself in a Lexington restaurant, my waitress brought my check.  I was shocked to find a note on my bill stating that it was already paid for by someone else in the restaurant that I never saw.  That had never happened to me in my 52 years!  That is exactly what Christ has done for each of us.  He paid our debt by dying on the cross in our place.

A single meal can only sustain any person for a short time.  We require food and water daily to stay healthy.  In the same way, a single act or expression of grace to another person is not enough.  As we receive God’s grace anew each day, we have to be constant conduits of God’s grace to all those around us.  I believe that through His divine help, we can.

Craig Martin

Children’s Ministry News

Do you ever get so excited about something each year that when it’s over you start planning for the next time it comes around?  Maybe it’s a special vacation or family reunion.  It could be a special sporting event or activity like camping season.  In children’s ministry it really is the entire summer!  Each year when the summer is over we immediately start thinking about and planning the next summer, and this year is no different.

We love what happens at church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, but what happens in the summer becomes an incredible boost of energy.

Before the summer gets fully underway, we prepare for The Best Egg Hunt In Town!  April 15th at noon will be super fun!  The prizes will be bigger, the organization will be better, and the team will be ready.  We are collecting eggs and candy all month long.  No peanuts please!  Next, comes Mother’s Day, Graduation, and Father’s Day!

Finally, the time we are most excited about… SUMMER!  By the time we reach June we have already begun building the set for VBS and kids have already signed up for church camp.  The dates for Day Camp are June 19-22.  It is geared for children 5-8 years old.  At the end of summer comes our 7/11 camp for children 7-11 years old.  This camp is an overnight camp set for July 23-28! (Special discount codes are available by emailing Matt@tatescreek.org).  We are expecting a HUGE group of kids to join us for camp this year so make sure you sign up early!

Tucked right into the middle of camp weeks is our favorite week of the year… Vacation Bible School.  Our theme this year is Jungle Safari (how fun is that?)  We will learn that God is our Creator, Protector, Provider, Savior, and King.  The dates for VBS are July 9-13!!

If you are reading this and think we are crazy… we are!  We love spending this time with your children and helping them grow!  Contact Matt Lee to join the teams for VBS or Egg Hunt, ask questions, get involved, and help a child grow!

7/11 Camp (7-11 years old; Overnight; Main focus on the gospel message)

Dates: Week 3- July 23-28;  7/11 Code: tatescreek711

http://bluegrasschristiancamp.org/summer/711-camp

DAY CAMP

(ages 5-9; 730 am-530 pm; shuttle bus from TCCC; Main mission/service focus)

Dates: Week 2- June 19-22;  Day Camp: tcdaycamp

(discount codes are available by emailing Matt@tatescreek.org)

Matt Lee

The Definition of Grace

When you google the word ‘Grace’ you get quite a few definitions.  “Simple elegance”, “giving one honor by your presence”, and of course, the most relevant one, “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”  Free and unmerited.  It’s so hard to believe these words sometimes, isn’t it?  Because of Jesus and what He did for us, we are able to come to God in His favor even as our human selves, so torn by sin.

Let’s think about it though, in terms of child/parent (it’s what I do best, right?)  As a parent, we continually see those little beings, that are half us, do things that are completely wrong.  They hit their brother/sister, they lie straight to your face, or as they get older, they make sinful decisions.  But what do we do, as parents?  We forgive them.  Completely.  My mother used to get angry at me but within an hour she wasn’t mad anymore.  It was like I had never done anything wrong.  Did she remember what I had done, sure, but she had such unconditional love for me that she never felt the need to stay upset.  I too, let go of my anger and judgement when my children misbehave, although I tend to fester a little longer than my mother.  I’m working on it.  But my point is that as the child/parent relationship relies on unconditional love, so too does our relationship with God our Holy Father.  He made us in his image, and we are each His loving child.  He sees our sin as painful, yes, but forgivable.  Because He sees each of us in this way, should we not extend our unconditional love to one another?  Should we not extend that grace to those we may not know, but who have sinned as we have sinned, and show them God’s love here on Earth?  Certainly this is no easy task, but I believe it’s something that we must strive for as Christians to honor the love that God gives each of us so freely.

Lesley Tipton

The Kingdom of Grace – Ephesians 3:1-12

I love that texts thousands of years old still give straight forward information on our purpose in this life.  In an ever-changing world we all have asked: what is God’s plan for me?  What does it look like? It is such an open ended question, but I love this Ephesians passage because Paul makes our purpose so clear and concise.  The mystery that is discussed so many times in the New Testament reminds us that Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit are the revelations for all of us to be saved.

Ephesus was a center for pilgrims coming to worship a false goddess.  Here were young Christians living in the city built and renowned for its dedication to paganism.  Two things speak to me with this passage; the first comes in Ephesians 3:8, when Paul describes himself as the least of God’s servants.  If that is true: who am I?  It is a good reminder that we have been asked to simply do the work and reach out to share this good news, through words and through actions within our daily life.  He gives this directive and charges us to preach and share this grace to EVERYONE.  That brings us to the second point: things have changed.  In a world where knowledge and understanding had only been known and shared from a few to a few, Paul gives us the purpose of the church: preach to everyone, Jew and Gentile.  The church should be the instrument used to share the good news and connect people we come into contact with God’s Kingdom of Grace.  Our creed is that all who accept Jesus as Savior are included in this new Kingdom.

In today’s world where we are so quick to tear each other down and even tear ourselves down for our short comings, I end with the way Paul ended his letter to the followers in Ephesus on how to connect and share this good news. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.  Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are indeed blessed to be a part of this family of God.

Steven Clem

Upcoming Musical Programs

Composer Mary McDonald Coming to Tates Creek

Please mark your calendars right now to attend our worship services at 9:30 AM and 6:00 PM on April 2.  The outstanding composer and artist, Mary McDonald, will be with us for the entire day.  Mary is one of the premiere choral and keyboard composers in our country.  You have seen her name many times in our bulletin as she has composed or arranged 22 pieces of choral music in our library and our recent Christmas cantata, Jesus! The Advent of the Messiah, was a new work composed by her last year.

In addition to her work as a composer, she is an outstanding pianist, organist, and conductor.  And…Mary is a lot of fun!  She loves to laugh and tell great stories.  More importantly, Mary is a strong Christian and loves to tell the story of Jesus and His love through her musical gifts.  When not traveling, she is involved in a local church music ministry in the Knoxville area.

She will be working with our choir on Saturday, April 1, as we prepare to present her music in our Sunday morning worship and the concert.  Please note the concert will start at 6:00 PM that night!   We have looked forward to Mary’s time with us for a long time and pray that you will do your best to be here and bring friends with you.  We also plan to invite area churches to join us.

Metrognomes Present Their Spring Concert

On May 5, at 7:30 PM, we will host the Metrognomes for their annual spring concert.  Due to a scheduling glitch, they were unable to perform in our recent Christmas Collage, so we hope you will enjoy their spring concert as they present a lot of big band and jazz tunes.  We have developed a special relationship with this excellent band and their director, Doug Oatley, former music teacher at Tates Creek High School.  Doug has recruited many of his outstanding former music students to play in this ensemble.  Our own church member, Willow Cooper has played in the band for several years. Bring a friend and prepare to tap your foot to their rhythms.

Don Seevers

What’s So Amazing About Grace?

The grace of God is so simple, yet so profound that it is beyond the greatest minds to fully understand.  It stands in opposition to the ideas that most of us have about earning our way in the world, people getting what they deserve, “fairness,” and about the independence of human beings.  The simplest definition I have ever heard for grace is: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

C.S. Lewis makes a statement about why grace is so amazing.  He says that “Grace is the only difference between Christianity and the other major religions.  We cannot earn God’s love and acceptance.  We just need to accept it.  None of the other religions have this freely given redemption for those who believe.”  Ephesians is just one book that clearly defines the power that grace has in our lives.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 

(Ephesians 2:4-10 NASB)

Phillip Yancey says “God took a great risk by announcing forgiveness in advance, and the scandal of grace involves a transfer of that risk to us.”  Yancy continues saying that, “What would it mean if I came to the place where I saw my primary identity in life as ‘the one Jesus loves’?  How differently would I view myself at the end of a day?’”

So, the question for thought today is; Are you willing to accept God’s love, mercy, and grace by stepping out in faith to fully surrender your life to Him? Have you been holding back, not allowing the grace of God to fully saturate you?  He is eagerly waiting for you to respond to the call He has placed on your life!  How will you respond to what you have heard?  Will you be bold and make a leap of faith that will radically change your life?

Geoff Lawson

The Unity of Grace – Ephesians 2:11-22

I have a drawer in my kitchen; my husband considers a “junk drawer”.  This drawer has an assortment of utensils.  They mostly look different and certainly   serve different purposes.  Some can do more than one job adequately and others are highly specific to a particular task.  The egg beater can’t do the job of the rolling pin, nor the rolling pin the job of the simple spatula.  I wonder if we as a church body resemble that kitchen drawer.  We all have been given individualized gifts and talents to use for kingdom work. These differences should be respected with love and grace, not allowing them to be reasons for complaint or division.  Our gifts working together as a body are obedient to God’s plan for His church and His household.

The early church had cultural & ethical differences that held the body divided.  Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians during his Roman custody.  He was hoping to bring unity to all of God’s church and all the church relationships, emphasizing inclusion of all believers in the role and mission of “God’s household”.

Ephesians 2:19-22

(19)  Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. (22)  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in while God lives by his Spirit.

The Jews, the Gentiles, the circumcised and the uncircumcised were all different, yet all believers, all working parts of the body of the church.  TCCC has many working parts of the church body, staff, teachers, students, ministry teams, small groups, Sunday school classes.  All of these are part of our church body.  With this many individual working groups making up our church body it could be possible to isolate within the groups and do good work but fail to unify as one body, one household.  God’s design for the church body is unity.   Our gifts are to be used in God’s service in concert instead of marking independence.  So unity begins with respect for all the individual utensils in the drawer.   We may look like a “junk drawer” but TCCC is like minded in our belief, unified in the Spirit and a beautiful display of the church, working together as a vehicle of God’s glory, worthy of our calling.

Becky Child

How Will We Multiply? By the Grace of God.

MULTIPLY.  It’s not just our theme for 2017; it’s a goal we’ve set before ourselves.  What can we do as Christ-followers to multiply so that our church body here at Tates Creek can last, thrive, and continue to make disciples until Jesus comes again?  It’s a daunting task.  Sometimes it feels overwhelming.  I’m just one person.  What can I really do to multiply our church?  What can I really do to affect future generations?

If this task were left up to me, it would fail.  But it’s not left up to me.  Some people have such a charismatic personality that they can grow a “church” all by themselves.  There are some who have such an extreme work-ethic and such a laser-focus that they can build a following by sheer force of will.

I’m not one of those people.  But I think that is exactly the way God wants it, because that is not how God builds a church, or how God has promised to sustain it.

Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18, ESV)  Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6, ESV)

This multiplication is only going to happen if God does it.  It’s only by his grace.  And that means we need to pray.  Lately I’ve been praying a very specific prayer and I ask that you would begin praying it with me in your own life.  The prayer is this: “God, please put people in my path who need to hear the gospel of your Son.  And help me to step up and share the gospel with them when the opportunity comes.”

God is sovereign.  Nothing happens in this world outside of him causing or permitting it.  If that’s the case, shouldn’t we be trusting in Him more to bring about the multiplication that we believe is His will for our church?

If you’re like me and you desire to bring more people to Christ, but you just don’t know how to get started… start with prayer.  Ask God to bring you people with whom you can share the gospel.  Ask Him to steer every day conversations toward spiritual things.  Ask Him to open up hearts (Acts 16:14) and open up doors for the gospel (Acts 14:27; Colossians 4:3).  He is sovereign and He can do it.  Believe in Him!

John Davis

The Power of Grace – Ephesians 2:1-10

The Father’s Love
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.  What a promise!
Some years ago a country/western song said it like this:
“I got sent home from school one day with a shiner on my eye.
Fightin’ was against the rules and it didn’t matter why.
When dad got home I told that story just like I rehearsed
and stood there on those tremblin’ knees and waited for the worst.
And daddy said, “Let me tell you a secret about a fathers love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us.
He said, Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then.
It’s a love without end, amen, it’s a love without end, amen.
Last night I dreamed I died and stood outside those pearly gates
When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake.
If they know half the things I’ve done, they’ll never let me in.
And then somewhere from the other side I heard those words again.
Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love,  daddies don’t just love
their children every now and then.  It’s a love without end, amen.”
The apostle John, who understood the love of God as well as any man could,
reminds us in I John 3:1 “See what love the Father has lavished on us, that we
should be called the children of God!  And that is what we are.”
We all believe in justice, but in the end it is grace, mercy and pardon that we
hope for.  What is amazing about God’s grace is that when the hammer was about
to fall on us, we were pulled aside and it fell on God’s son.  It is truly
wonderful to know about our Father’s love.  It is a love without end.  AMEN
Ron Fey

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