Love God–Starting Point

Pathway Points

Stepping Up for Jesus

In last week’s GraceNotes, I started us out on a journey through Grace Church’s Discipleship Pathway. The basis for everything that we do at Grace is God’s love, so it makes sense that “Love God” is the foundation for our Pathway. The leadership at Grace also recognizes that everyone is at a different point on their faith journey, so each of the three parts of the Pathway are divided down into “Starting Points, Next Steps, and Going Deeper.” While the descriptions are not meant to be exhaustive (nor are they meant to be judgmental), they are intended for self-evaluation, and, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, as a set of suggestions to help you better understand what each step on the Pathway looks like in the life of a believer.

For example, in the Love God part, a believer that is just starting out on their faith journey would probably attend worship at least once per month. In terms of self-evaluation, look at the frequency that you attend worship at Grace. If you’re pretty new to your faith and all you can manage is one per month, don’t beat yourself up too much. Remember, this is a faith journey and new habits are not easy to cultivate. On the other hand, if you’ve been a Christian for a while and you’re still only managing once or twice per month, perhaps it’s time to challenge yourself to take the next step on the pathway.

For discussions on the importance of attending worship in the first place, check out these articles:

Why Attending Church is So Important
Three Reasons to Attend Corporate Worship

Stepping up with you in His strength!

Monica Lebsack

Creative Ministries Director

At Grace, one of my responsibilities is to publish a weekly article in our e-newsletter, GraceNotes, about discipleship. Specifically, about the various components of our Discipleship Pathway and how a person could journey along it. This is my most recent article.

Walkin’ With Jesus

Pathway Points

Stepping Up for Jesus

We’ve had quite a few new members recently, so I thought we all could use a quick refresher on Grace Church’s Discipleship Pathway. At Grace, we believe that every believer should be striving to mature in their faith, growing more like Jesus. Our Discipleship team (working at the same time as our Vision team) wound up creating a definition of a disciple very similar to our vision statement. Fortunately for us, that means we only need to remember one statement instead of two.

A disciple of Jesus loves God, serves all, and changes lives.

Over the next couple of weeks, I want to take the time to look at each piece of the statement and give you some examples of different ways you could be growing your faith. Every person’s faith walk is different and everyone is at a different point on the pathway, but all of us should be moving and supporting one another along the way.

Stepping up with you in His strength!

Monica Lebsack

Creative Ministries Director

At Grace, one of my responsibilities is to publish a weekly article in our e-newsletter, GraceNotes, about discipleship. Specifically, about the various components of our Discipleship Pathway and how a person could journey along it. This is my most recent article.

And, How Exactly Am I Supposed To Do All of That?

Pathway Points

Stepping Up for Jesus

Last week, I defined the terms “Means of Grace” and “Spiritual Disciplines” for you. If you missed the article you can find it here. Today, I want to encourage those of you that were a bit overwhelmed with the prospects of incorporating them into your daily habits. First of all, I want to remind you that grace is a gift, not something to be earned. So, while spiritual disciplines are an important part of your journey as a follower of Christ, practicing them cannot earn you grace nor does failing to practice them deny you grace. The means of grace are the activities that we do, or the means, through which God can poor out his grace on us, helping us to become the persons that he wants us to be. That said, as you begin to incorporate these activities into your life, the article Quarters offers an encouraging perspective for you.

Stepping up with you in His strength!

Monica Lebsack

Creative Ministries Director

At Grace, one of my responsibilities is to publish a weekly article in our e-newsletter, GraceNotes, about discipleship. Specifically, about the various components of our Discipleship Pathway and how a person could journey along it. This is my most recent article.

Jargon Translated…I Promise

Pathway Points

Stepping Up for Jesus

As Methodists, there are a couple of phrases that are used (in the Pizza with the Pastor class, for instance) that may or may not make sense to the average person in the pew, or chair as it may be. Our founder, John Wesley, used the phrase “Means of Grace” when talking about “Spiritual Disciplines.” The easier of the two, and slightly more universal, is “Spiritual Disciplines.” These are the things that we do as Christians to learn more about God and to deepen our relationship with him, as well as sharing him with the world around us. These include reading the Bible, praying, going to church (specifically, worshiping), and participating in mission projects.

Wesley categorized these activities as “Means of Grace.” Just to make things perfectly clear, grace is getting what we do not deserve. So, the means of grace are the activities that we do, or the means, through which God can poor out his grace on us, helping us to become the persons that he wants us to be, not activities that we do to earn grace. God can and does give us his grace anyway he wants, these are just some of the activities through which Christians find it easiest to recognize and respond to that grace.

As we look at the means of grace today, they can be divided into works of piety and works of mercy.

Works of Piety
Individual Practices – reading, meditating and studying the scriptures, prayer, fasting, regularly attending worship, healthy living, and sharing our faith with others
Communal Practices – regularly share in the sacraments (baptism and communion), Christian conferencing (accountability to one another), and Bible study

Works of Mercy
Individual Practices – doing good works, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others
Communal Practices – seeking justice, ending oppression and discrimination (for instance Wesley challenged Methodists to end slavery), and addressing the needs of the poor

Stepping up with you in His strength!

Monica Lebsack

Creative Ministries Director

At Grace, one of my responsibilities is to publish a weekly article in our e-newsletter, GraceNotes, about discipleship. Specifically, about the various components of our Discipleship Pathway and how a person could journey along it. This is my most recent article.

Rest

Pathway Points

Stepping Up for Jesus

As you journey along this Pathway, spending time with God in worship and rest is very important. This Sabbath rest, as it’s called, is a rhythm that God set into motion right from the beginning. (See Genesis 2:1-3 NLT) Kerri Weems gives a beautiful description of this in her article Sabbath: God’s Metronome. So, enjoy your weekend of rest and don’t forget to join us for worship on Sunday! 

Stepping up with you in His strength!

Monica Lebsack

Creative Ministries Director

At Grace, one of my responsibilities is to publish a weekly article in our e-newsletter, GraceNotes, about discipleship. Specifically, about the various components of our Discipleship Pathway and how a person could journey along it. This is my most recent article.

Books! Books! And, More Books!

Pathway Points

Stepping Up for Jesus

Today, I thought you might enjoy a glimpse into my reading life. I’m one of those people that reads lots of different things at the same time, depending on my mood. As you read through the list, if there’s any that you decide to read as well (or have already read), let me know. I’d love to chat!

The One Year Coffee with God: 365 Devotions to Perk Up Your Day I happen to know the author of this devotional via her husband Tom, a UMC pastor in the Lansing area. It’s been fun getting glimpses into her life through daily devotions, prayers, and poetry.

It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba This is the book that the Saturday morning Coffee & Christ small group will be reading starting April 29th. Join us!

PRAYzing!: Creative Prayer Experiences from A to Z As many of you know, prayer beads are a current fascination of mine. So, I’ve taken to reading all kinds of books on prayer looking for ideas.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream I must admit, I just got this book on Tuesday, so I’m only a couple of chapters in, but I’m already hooked. It’s a easy read, but I’ll warn you, it’s not for the faint of heart. It poses quite a challenge for our everyday faith.

National Geographic Of course, I had to throw this one on the list. If only to prove that not everything I read is faith-based. Remember, back in the day, I was a math major, computer science minor, working on a Master’s in physics education.

The Low-FODMAP 28-Day Plan: A Healthy Cookbook with Gut-Friendly Recipes for IBS Relief Sigh…the new diet the doctor put me on. I have to admit, I do feel much better, but such a challenge!

At the Sign of Triumph: A Novel in the Safehold Series And, my very favorite sci-fi/fantasy author. I’ve had this one sitting in my stack for a year now. It’s a good 3-inches thick, so I’ve put off reading it because I know that I’ll get sucked in to the story and not do anything else until it’s done!

Stepping up with you in His strength!

Monica Lebsack

Creative Ministries Director

At Grace, one of my responsibilities is to publish a weekly article in our e-newsletter, GraceNotes, about discipleship. Specifically, about the various components of our Discipleship Pathway and how a person could journey along it. This is my most recent article.

It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming!

Pathway Points

Stepping Up for Jesus

Today is Good Friday. Oftentimes, today is a day of quiet reflection and mourning. For us, looking back through the lens of Easter, Good Friday really is good. For the disciples however, it was anything but good. For them, their beloved teacher and friend is gone. They’re in hiding, literally and figuratively, fearing for their lives and filled with shame. They’re also dealing with extreme disappointment. In their minds, Jesus was supposed to overthrow Rome and bring back the glory days of Israel. Everything was supposed to get better, not worse.

Once again, the disciples missed the point. Like us living in the “already, but not yet,” they wanted Jesus to hurry up and fix it all and make their lives paradise. Jesus, on the other hand, wanted more than just them in that paradise; he wants everyone! Oh, if only I could go back in time and tell them, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!

Stepping up with you in His strength!

Monica Lebsack

Creative Ministries Director

At Grace, one of my responsibilities is to publish a weekly article in our e-newsletter, GraceNotes, about discipleship. Specifically, about the various components of our Discipleship Pathway and how a person could journey along it. This is my most recent article.

Change Lives? Me? I can’t do that!

Pathway Points

Stepping Up for Jesus

Often during Lent, people are encouraged to give up something, typically something like pop or chocolate or their favorite TV program. Unfortunately, it seems to stop there, never drawing the person closer to God. Instead, in years past, I’ve asked the kids during a Children’s Moment on Sunday morning to “make a radical choice for Jesus.” In doing this, I know that they must give something up (free time, comfort, etc.) and replace it with this new choice that will help them to become more like Jesus. For kids, some choices included stepping out of their comfort zone and greeting people with a smile and a “Hello,” or to giving up some of their play time to read a devotional each night.

For those of you looking for a starting point on the Change Lives part of the Pathway, let me tell you about a radical choice I made along with a couple of ladies from Grace. We’ve chosen to support Mercy House Global, a global movement to empower women throughout the world through employment, not enablement. It started as a safe house for pregnant, teenage girls in Kenya. They were given a safe place to have their babies and learn to care for them, and given job training to support them. Since then, Mercy House has grown into “thousands of individuals in 24 countries, working with more than 42 faith-based non-profits.” About halfway down their home page, they list ways that you can Change Lives including prayer, shopping, and volunteering (road trip!).

Perhaps you could join me and the other ladies in making a radical choice for Jesus, giving up something (time, money, vacation days) to become a little more like Jesus?

Stepping up with you in His strength!

Monica Lebsack

Creative Ministries Director

At Grace, one of my responsibilities is to publish a weekly article in our e-newsletter, GraceNotes, about discipleship. Specifically, about the various components of our Discipleship Pathway and how a person could journey along it. This is my most recent article.

Smudges with Meaning

Pathway Points

Stepping Up for Jesus

Last week, I introduced Lent as a time of introspection and reflection in preparation for Easter. We as Christians use this time to focus on our need for a Savior—our sinful natures, His perfection; our stubborn grip on earthly things, His patient pursuit of us anyway. One of the ways that we can do that is by using a devotional to guide our Bible reading, thoughts, and prayers. (Hint, hint…pick one up at the Welcome Center on Sunday.)  Continue reading

Holidays, Holidays, & More Holidays

At Grace, one of my responsibilities is to publish a weekly article in our e-newsletter, GraceNotes, about discipleship. Specifically, about the various components of our Discipleship Pathway and how a person could journey along it. This is my most recent edition:

Pathway Points

Stepping Up for Jesus

It’s that time of year again. You know where one holiday barely ends before the next begins. First, it’s Valentine’s Day, then Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, and then St. Patrick’s Day (because…you know…green beer), and Palm Sunday, and…wait…you don’t feel the pressure? I know it’s not Christmas, but nothing? Perhaps a bit of review is in order. After all, there’s no point in Christmas if there’s no Easter and Easter is forever intertwined with Lent and Holy Week.

Let’s begin with the end in mind. Candy hearts and green beer aside, Easter is the big holiday on the horizon. It’s the day that we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s the whole reason that Christmas happened in the first place. So…it’s pretty amazing that Jesus rose from the dead (the resurrection) but if that’s all that we focus on, we completely miss the point.

Just like with Christmas, we have a season of preparation for Easter. At Christmas, it’s a time of celebration called Advent. Starting March 1st, it’s a time of introspection and reflection called Lent. We as Christians use this time to focus on our need for a Savior; our sinful natures, His perfection; our stubborn grip on earthly things, His patient pursuit of us anyway.

Join me each week as we dig a little deeper into this holiday season and what Easter really means. Also, be on the lookout for Lenten Devotionals coming soon to a Welcome Center near you!

Stepping up with you in His strength!

Monica Lebsack

Creative Ministries Director