Everything listed under: Serve

  • How Bingo Changes Lives

    People from God's Grace serve the world every month by hosting Bingo at The Gathering Place, a daytime shelter for poor and homeless women and children. You might wonder just exactly how Bingo serves the world. Here's a story that helps answer that question:

    Until I started working at The Gathering Place, it never occurred to me that a woman's life could be so bleak that the simple pleasure of a bingo game would be enough to make her think about kicking a drug habit. But I saw it happen.

    Rhonda knew the rules. We don't let people come in here when they're high. Still, somehow, she sneaked in one day when we were giving the women a special treat - a bingo game. Rhonda laughed freely for the first time in years.

    In fact, she had so much fun that day, she found herself trying to stay clean so that she could come here regularly. Eventually, she did beat the drug habit....and homelessness, too.

    Who knew a bingo game could be so powerful?

    Be part of something powerful -- and fun -- Monday, October 5 @ 2 p.m. Click here for details.

  • Extreme Community

    This weekend our church has the opportunity to participate in an Extreme Community Makeover. This will be a rewarding experience for those who benefit from the Makeover, and equally or more so for the faithful stewards willing to serve. Seeing the joy that comes to the faces of those benefiting is such a priceless thank you to all lending a hand. Working side by side, it sometimes feels as if you’re not making much of a difference, but working as a body within a bigger group, you can easily see the difference. That’s how God works through us when everyone works together.

    To you, I offer the following from Psalms 41 v. 1-3 (RSV), “Blessed is he who considers the poor! The Lord delivers him in the day of trouble; the Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; thou dost not give him up to the will of his enemies. The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness thou healest all his infirmities.”

    My blessings I part on you as you so willingly give of your time. Thanks to you who serve in His name. Your efforts will surely be rewarded. Peace be with you!

    Wendy Saathoff

  • A Word From Pastor Dave | Greater Things

    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

    “Very truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father," said Jesus. (John 14:12)


    In my experience of being around the church for 50 years I do not think we take this verse seriously. Our mental models will not allow it. We too often see the world and all that is in it as a machine instead of as an organism.
     
    Machines need oil or re-tuning and they finally just wear out. The machine model is linear, in that the concern is how to get from Point A to Point B with efficiency. The machine model leads to religious boredom. Church becomes an endless series of meetings where we listen to burnt out people who are waiting to retire from church work. This might be an exaggeration, but it contains truth based on my own observation.

    But what if we think of the church as an organism instead?

    Relationships are the key to a organic way of being the body of Christ living in community. The organic model tosses out highly organized strategies if they prohibit the forming of relationships. The organic model of church says that nothing is staked concrete, not even traditions (this of course does not mean that anyone advocates we abandon all traditions, merely that we worship God -- not traditions).

     

    God, in the organic model, becomes even more awesome because God is the only thing that is unchangeable. The great theologian, Dr. Paul Tillich said, “God is the ground of all being.” In the organic model, there is nothing that cannot be transformed. And our unchangeable God will always bring order out of the chaos of constant transformation.

     

    A place I hope to see the church practicing the organic method of ministry is this Saturday in the Extreme Community Makeover in Littleton . We will work together from 9am to 4pm. If you can make it for all or a portion of that time I hope to see you there. Click here for details on how you can get involved.  As we grow in Christ Jesus by the building up of relationships, “….in fact we will do greater works than these…."


    See you Saturday and Sunday

    Still in one peace,

    David J Jensen
  • Sunday to Monday | Following Jesus

    On Sunday, we talked about what it means to follow Jesus and how God gifts and calls each of us to serve. Here are some questions to take you through the week:

    • What does it mean to be “employed by Jesus?”
    • Can you name a time you felt “equipped” to serve the Lord (Ephesians 4:12)?
    • Are you praying God will equip you for new adventures; do you have any idea what they might be?
    • Have you ever heard someone else tell you who they say Jesus is…(Mark 8:27) and your image of Jesus grew based upon the view of another?
    • Where have you been surprised to see Jesus? Where do you hear the voice of God in the poem “For the Garden of Your Daily Living?” 

    Here's a video we watched and listened to as a way in to what it looks like to by employed by Jesus.

  • To Love and Serve

    "What's the catch?" she asked us.
    I said, "There isn't one."
    Dumbfounded she laughed a bit, and then said "No, there has to be a catch."
    "Ma'am I assure you there isn't one. We just want to serve you."

    This is part of a conversation I had with an elderly woman whose home we visited in Littleton with Extreme Community Makeover. We went door to door telling people we (GGCC and other churches) will be in their nieghborhood on September 26th to help with exterior home improvement projects free of charge. We then asked them if they had any projects they would like help with. The general response was shock and then questioning of our motivation. When we explained that our desire was purely to be of service, people were so responsive and deeply grateful.

    This experience led me to reflect upon one of my favorite verses:

    "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:18.

    I don't want to be a person that only speaks of love and service. I want to be a person that lives it out. Because that's what really matters. Regardless of whether or not you are able to serve with us and Extreme Community Makeover, I encourage you to find a way today to outwardly love through actions. You will be surprised at the moments in which you will find an opportunity to love and serve another person. (Little things mean a lot.)

    Prayer:
    Lord I ask that you would help us to love in actions and in truth. Please help us to take advantage of the opportunities we find to serve others. God, I thank you for times where we can serve. In these moments we not only help another, but you are also able to work on our hearts and stir our spirits. May we be your hands and feet. Amen.

    Grace & Peace,
    Amanda Jensen

  • Sunday to Monday | Doing Church in a Whole New Way (1 of 2)

    On Sunday, we started a 2-part series on Doing Church in a Whole New Way. The service started with this video from Nickelback.

    Pastor Dave talked about the Vital Signs of a Church....and how each of us plays a part in the vitality of the church through Preparation, Participation, Pastoral Acts and Public Witness. Here are some questions and passages to reflect on this week:

    • "...they devoted themselves to the apostles' teachings..." (v. 42). What might you do to engage in a higher level of spiritual Preparation?
    • "...they were devoted tot he breaking of the bread.." (v. 42). How might you grow in your Participation in the body of believers?
    • "All who believed were together and had all things in common" (v. 44). How might you share what you have to Pastorally care for another?
    • "...they ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having goodwill for all people" (vv. 46-47). What is God desiring that your Public Witness look like?

    And here are a couple of other videos that were part of the service.

    Schindler's List clip on the value of using your gifts to serve others.

     

    Extreme Community Makeover video. Learn more about GGCC's Extreme Community Makeover here.

  • Presence or Presents?

    Each month during the school year, people from God's Grace Community Church go to Paris Elementary School to honor students who are working hard and improving in their reading and writing skills. Read this reflection on that experience by Terry Herzog, a GGCC participant....and consider reaching out in love to the children of Paris Elementary in some way this year. The next Terrific Readers and Writers ceremony is scheduled for September 30.

    And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children. (Isaiah 54:13)

    This week I was blessed with the opportunity to serve at Paris Elementary School in Aurora. Having grown up in Aurora as a youth and working as a contractor in Aurora for most of my adult life, I watched this little town transform from a military town supporting Lowry Air Force Base and Fitzsimons Army Post and Hospital, to a city full of diversity in culture and economic class.

     

    Paris Elementary is surrounded by older, rundown apartment building and small single family homes. Yet the old Stapleton Airport, just ten blocks to the north, is a community with homes valued at over $500,000. To the east, located on the old Fitzsimons Army Post is the new University of Colorado Medical School complex, supporting the medical school, the cancer research center, Children’s Hospital, the VA nursing home and soon to be built VA Hospital. This truly is a city in transition.

     

    I have watched the transformation of this city for a very long time. Parts in decay and run down, parts rejuvenated, all with hope and opportunity. One of the greatest challenges we face as adults is taking care of our children. The students at Paris Elementary are blessed to have caring teachers, counselors and administrators. These folks are truly a gift from God. They are faced with the challenge of educating children in bilingual programs and preparing them to be the future of tomorrow. I am reminded of a 47 year old man named Jose Hernandez; as a boy he traveled with his farm worker family between Mexico and southern California and worked in the sugar beet fields. He did not learn to speak English until he was 12 years old. His parents were insistent on his education. As I write this, he is waiting lift off on the Space Shuttle Discovery, heading into outer space, his destination the International Space Station. Jose is proof that opportunity does exist and the sky is the limit.

     

    The time I spent at Paris Elementary this last Wednesday just reinforced what I had learned on earlier experiences I’ve had on mission trips and youth ministry. I was the one rewarded and blessed, as I looked into the eyes of these young children as they were reading their new books. I listened and looked on, wondering where this journey would take them; Jose Hernandez came into my mind, to the heavens he will travel. As adults we all play a vital role in the lives of our young people, as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, as mentors, as teachers as youth leaders and serving in outreach ministry. We are commanded to love one another; especially the children.

    Your children need your presence more than your presents ~ Jesse Jackson

    Go in Peace and Serve the Lord,

    Terry Herzog
  • Sunday to Monday | Ruptured by Freedom

    On Sunday, Pastor Dave and participants in the Senior High Youth Mission Trip talked about how their lives were ruptured as they got out of their own lives and into the lives of others in San Diego. Here are some things to think about this week as we all think about how to make those short-term experiences of "rupture" have a lasting impact on our faith:

    • In Luke 18 Jesus flips current understanding upside down. The people experience “freedom” to see God in new ways. Old thoughts are “ruptured” by fresh good news. How have the experiences our youth shared and the text of Luke 18 “freed” you, or “ruptured” your spiritual journey so that you might more faithfully follow Jesus?
    • When have you been led by God to leave a well known context and experience God anew in a foreign place? Is God calling you to any new places, people, or contexts now? It could be anywhere from across the street to the other side of the earth.
    • The disciples gave up all they had to follow Jesus (Luke 18:28), and the rich man in Luke 18:22 is asked to give up all he has and to follow Jesus. Jesus is probably not literally wanting you to give your house away. But what might Jesus be asking you to set aside so that God can better reach you and you can follow Jesus more faithfully (habit, pursuit, addiction, relationship, possession, temptation)?
    • With 13 teenagers, 3 college students, and 4 adults, the youth mission trip was truly intergenerational. God's vision for community is blended by age. Pray that God might lead you into your place in Jesus' intergenerational community.
  • Following Jesus into the World

    • A dozen 12-14 year olds from GGCC.
    • Another 50 12-18 year olds from three other churches. 
    • One week.
    • No cell phones, ipods, tvs, computers.
    • Cramped sleeping quarters and shared bathroom facilities in a 50-year old building.
    • Little privacy, less sleep, lots of hormones.

     WHY? 

    Following Jesus into the world.

    Last week youth from The Firm Youth Ministry hopped into three mini-vans and drove up to Lander, WY for a week-long mission trip serving in Jesus’ name on the Wind River Reservation.  We were there to offer a little hope and show them a lot of love.  A mission trip is a good way to practice what it means to love God, love people and serve the world. 

      Our group was split into work crews. These crews served one another during the week. 

          
    We got to know other missionaries from Green Bay, WI; Buffalo, MN; and Salida, CO. Each crew served two days on work projects and during the week painted the exteriors of 2½ houses that were undergoing renovation on the reservation.

     Two days were reserved for leading (planning, coordinating and executing) an afternoon Kids Club in the town of Ethete on the reservation; as well as stopping by to visit with residents at a rehab clinic/Alzheimers facility in Riverton. 

    When you list it out like this it doesn’t sound like all that much. But really – it was.

    Forming teams of young people who have just met and organizing them into functioning units is a miracle in and of itself; not to mention, reminding them that the paint was donated so paint-fights were out of the question; painting carefully so the residents would be proud to live there; building relationships with children who were skeptical. Allowing youth to develop the songs, skits, crafts and games for the children required this adult to really take a step back! 

     In a word – the youth were amazing! They didn’t complain, whine or grumble. They didn’t pine for their electronics. They weren’t able to hide behind ear buds so conversation was plentiful and creative. They volunteered to go above and beyond the expectation. They got to large group activities on time, listened when appropriate, were interested in learning about Native American culture and were compassionate and caring with one another. Don’t get me wrong – we had a lot of fun, kids were often pretty silly and getting their attention at times was a challenge. 

    But – these students give me so much hope for the future. For how the world might be a different place because of their leadership. For how the church might be a true reflection of Jesus. For how their lives intertwine the secular and spiritual. For how much love they are willing to give.  For their willingness to follow Jesus into the world. 

    Vikki

    P.S. Looking for more pictures? Click here.

     

    "Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  No one has ever seen God.  But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us."  1 John 4:11-12

     

  • A Word from Pastor Dave | Ruptured by Freedom

    Today, I am in San Diego on the Senior High youth mission trip. Youth mission trips are clearly one of the most enjoyable points in my ministry.

    It was the summer of 1974, when I was a sophomore in high school on a mission trip in a big Winnebago, with my youth group from St. John Lutheran church in Keystone, Iowa, that I made one of the largest leaps in my life of faith.

    On that trip in 1974 I first began to take this Jesus who dwells throughout the earth and cosmos seriously. All of a sudden Jesus began to take on a relevancy in my life. Up until that trip, I saw Jesus as a person who wanted some songs sung to him on Sunday morning. I had honestly thought that the Christian experience was one contained to the walls of a church facility.

    On that trip across South Dakota in the summer of 1974, the adult leadership team of Pastor Don Berg, Judy Berg and another leader named Milt Jensen (also my father) guided us on an experience of God in the world. We framed discussions around the presence of God in the world. We took on heavy theological issues. It gave us a chance to talk openly about a God who created even acne faced teens in God's image. Pastor Berg would often remind us that "God does not make junk, and you are not junk." We took on real world cultural events and discussed God's presence in them, such as what is God's will of forgiveness and justice toward elected leaders in a world with Watergates?

    Luke 18 is the chapter of scripture I have asked our 13 senior high youth, 3 college aged youth, and 4 adult leaders to ponder this week. It begins with the story of a widow who approaches an unjust judge for justice. Have you ever approached the unjust seeking justice? It is not easy? What we find in the story (Luke 18:1-8) is that the widow's persistence is the greatest gift she has. The widow simply will not give up! Jesus is like the widow, and we are sometimes like the judge. Jesus persistently comes to offer us good news, fresh hope, and forgiveness. Jesus comes relentlessly to bring us an affirmation of our self image, or to remind us that God is King of the universe, and no corrupt politician has the final power over anything.


    Persistence, a great trait to maintain with our youth and all relationships. For ultimately the hope that is ours eternally comes from Christ Jesus our Lord , "...What is impossible for mortals is possible for God(Luke 18:27)."

    I am reminded of the singer Jackson Browne's view of persistence when I imagine the widow, "The stream shapes the rock through persistence not strength." Fortunately in 1974, somewhere along I -90 in a  Winnebago, God literally entered my life in a profound way and ruptured how I had previously seen (or not seen) Jesus in the world. Through experiences such as this I live in the freedom each day to see Jesus in many ways. May you be so blessed this day and often.

    Please pray that we might have safe passage home as we travel this Friday and Saturday. You have prayers rising up for you this day in San Diego.


    See you on Sunday,

     

    Still in one peace,


    David J Jensen

  • Sunday to Monday | Free to Follow Jesus

    This Sunday we heard from several middle school students who went on a mission trip to Wyoming with The Firm,  GGCC's Middle School Ministry. They shared what they learned about how we are free when we serve others using Matthew 5: 1-10 and Galatians 3: 14-15 as a place to start.

    Have you thought lately about how you're Free to Follow Jesus? Here are some questions to ponder this week:

    •  Think of a situation or time in your life when you felt like you had freedom. What made you feel free?
    • What keeps you from being free? What things do you hold onto that keep you tied up? When you read Paul's words (Galatians 5:13-14) what does freedom mean to you? How can you find that sort of freedom?
    • What does it mean to be free to follow Jesus? What does that look like? What would you be willing to give up to do that? Can you even imagine it?
    • Read Matt 5:1-10. How do Jesus' values differ from the world's? How would your life be different if you had the freedom to live this way?
  • Jalapeno & Sour Cream Ministry

    Kairos Prison Ministry was one of the ways to Serve the World we highlighted at GGCC during Lent. Here's an update on what's happening with that ministry and how it changes lives for the inmates who participate.

    One inmate told me with a huge smile that he hadn't had sour cream in 13 years, and he couldn't believe a bunch of "outside guys" he didn't know would bring them sour cream (for the baked potatoes, real meat, and burritos we also brought in). Other inmates were visibly delighted to get real, fresh jalapenos, which was a rich flavor many of them thought they would never get to experience again in their lives.

    Yes, many of these men came for the food they had heard about, but they were filled up with something else altogether that they weren't expecting. They found friendship, forgiveness, unconditional love from the Christian Community, and the Holy Spirit!

    I have been "busting at the seams" waiting to tell you all about some of the incredible ways God used your generous donations at last weekend's big 3.5 day Kairos Prison Ministry event inside the Sterling Correctional Facility in northeast Colorado! This was all about the inmates (we call residents) and God, but I confess I was so blessed I almost couldn't absorb any more Joy in one weekend!

    Here's how a Kairos weekend works.

    • There were about 42 first-time inmates who signed up for the event, plus another 16 prior "graduates" (inmates) who volunteered to come back and serve.
    • There were about 24 of us outside team members plus a "kitchen team" of wives and others on the outside who brought in the food.
    • We assign the residents to "table families" of 6 inmates and 3 outside guys for the weekend so that they can start feeling comfortable sharing more deeply as they get to know us and each other.
    • We give about five 20 minute "talks" per day on various topics ranging from "Choices" to "You are Not Alone".
    • We sing lots of songs, make posters at our tables, come up with skits, present the posters and perform the skits each evening. And we laugh a ton! And we talk one on one and in groups about everything imaginable.
    • We pray and meditate a lot in the "chapel" room. And we serve all the cookies and chips and drinks the men can consume, all day every day. A couple guys said at the Closing that this was the best time they had had in their entire lives (can you imagine??).
    Many of these men have not had a visitor or a letter in 10, 15, 20+ years! On Saturday, we give each man at least 30 hand-written letters to read on the spot (oh, yeah, lots of tears...). On Saturday night we have a special Forgiveness Ceremony (yep, more tears!). On Sunday, we have a Closing session where 100 or so men and women of the Christian Community come in to the visitor center and surprise the inmates (considering no one ever comes to visit them...oh, yeah, a bunch more tears!!).

    So what, you ask? What difference does any of this make?  Let me tell you just a couple of the numerous stories from this weekend:

    • One leader of one of the white supremacist gangs shocked everyone when he stood up at Closing and said he accepted all the men in the room as brothers and all past issues were forgotten.
    • Another leader told us he was tired of living that life and wanted to give it up and change to live a different kind of life. He had tears in his eyes and a smile on his face. He was one of my sponsorees, and I got to witness a profound inner struggle and change over the weekend. But it's very hard to leave a gang, so he has a rough road ahead.
    • The leader of one of the black gangs stood up and said that calling shots (hits) on people was the easy part, forgiving himself and believing in God and living a Godly life was the hard part. He broke down crying in front of all the other inmates and the community. He said he had gone to his room the night before and cried for the first time in his memory. Showing vulnerability can be dangerous in prison, so the inmates were visibly moved. He doesn't know if he fully accepts God yet, but the seeds are deeply planted.
    • The leader of one of the Hispanic gangs was at my table, and we talked at great length. Very tough questions about Jesus, answered prayers, etc., very difficult for me to try to answer, but God gave me words and this inmate heard God's message regardless how I said it. And he didn't show major signs of change of heart by the end, but the seeds were planted. He said this weekend was a good thing, and that we had made him feel comfortable so that he stayed and soaked it all in.
    • Several men said they had decided to change their lives around and leave their gangs and former friends behind.
    • One man said he no longer cared what the gangs thought of him leaving, he had to change for his kids. The gang leader later stood up and said he would protect this young man and honor his desire to get out. Unheard of!! Except when God is involved!
    • We had Druids, Muslims, and guys from various other "religions", and these guys all had major positive "experiences" to build on. Thank you God!  
    I could go on and on... So, let me end by just saying thank you all for your contributions and prayers!! They literally helped change many lives!

     Blessings!

    Randy Weldon

  • A Pebble Tossed in the Pond

    Reverend Leon Kelly (The Rev) of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives preached at God's Grace on Sunday. The basis for his message was this equation:

    Vision + Faith = Motivation

     He focused on the faith part. Maybe the faith part is what makes it possible for him to wake up and go to work every morning. Because even after 20 years of trying to save kids from gangs, he keeps burying young men. But after reading this article on the front page of Sunday's Denver Post, I'm convinced that it's the vision part that changes the lives of the young people The Rev reaches.

    Take a few minutes to read this article. It starts off with this quote:

    "A pebble tossed in the pond, and the rings are still going out."

    The "pebble" was a group of 69 teens who formed a gang in Denver 23 years ago. That pebble has spawned "rings" that today comprise 8,800 members of 78 violent street gangs in Denver. Quite the pebble.

    In the article, The Rev says,

    "In a gang, they have some acceptance, some identity. People know they are alive."

    Through Open Door, The Rev gives young people and their parents a vision for identity and acceptance that goes counter to gang culture. That vision is about family and friends and positive choices....and faith. And that vision is a pebble, tossed in the pond. Its rings will keep going out. And maybe they'll have the power to neutralize some of the rings from that pebble 23 years ago.

    God's Grace Community Church is the only church in the metro area partnering with Reverend Kelly and Open Door. Come see for yourself how this pebble tossed into the pond is making ripples. Every Friday this summer, you can help host a picnic for Open Door and meet some of the staff and kids at Open Door. You won't regret it. Contact Claudia Larson for details.