Mercy Triumphs over Judgment

July 31, 2009

James 2:14-16 says:  What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?  Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

This scripture has the habit of stopping people in their tracks—especially those of us who approach the Bible as a legitimate guide for our lives.  The passage goes on to explain that faith by itself isn’t enough.  Only when faith leads to action is it of any use.

When we read passages like this, it can be so natural to experience wide emotional swings between feeling condemned and beat up for our lack of action, then vacillating over to feeling smug and self-confident when we actually do something.

But when we look at things honestly, we must acknowledge God as the source of both our faith and any lasting works that result from our faith.  And then we realize once again that the key to a successful spiritual life does not lie in our ability to judge ourselves or others, but in our ability to both receive and offer mercy as a free gift.

In fact, all in life is gift.  We have all received freely, and we are invited to give it away just as freely. 

What if we actually lived like we believe that God loves the poor and needy?  (He does.)

What if we actually lived like we believe that God hears every cry and sees every tear of the lost and lonely?  (He does.)

What if we actually lived like we believe that God routinely identifies Himself with the beggars on the street?   (He does.)

What do you think?  Leave a comment below. 

Feel free to click on the link to take a look at our Bible passage for the evening:  James 2:12-26.

And come join us this Sunday at 5 PM as we CONNECT with a challenging message called “Mercy Triumphs over Judgment”.

Five more Sundays in the Summer of Love ’09

July 26, 2009

Its hard to believe there are only 5 weeks left in the Summer of Love ’09 outreach series at Nate’s Swap and Shop!

Each week, we have been gathering at the Truesdale house, then heading out to share God’s love with kids and their families.

We have been giving away free donuts and free ice-pops, and have been doing face painting and offering a craft project for anyone who is interested.

We have really enjoyed cultivating relationships with vendors, buyers, and their children, and we have sered over 200 kids each week!

Today, we had a first.  One of the vendors gifted us with a case of swim caps.  What did we do?  We turned around and gave them away, of course!

Whenever people ask us why we are out there giving away free stuff, we simply tell them that God has given us everything, and we are just here to give a small portion of what we have recieved.  Swim caps and everything!

There is always room for another hand or two, and we have plenty of room for more to join with us.  Try coming with us once–it will be the highlight of your week.

Don’t Dishonor the Poor

July 25, 2009

Cristo Redentor

I hope to some day visit the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and see this spectacular wonder called Cristo Redentor “christ the redeemer” that has become a significant symbol for the city and for the entire country of Brazil.  Standing 100 feet wide and 120 feet tall, the 635 ton monument sits atop a peak rising more than 2000 feet above sea level.

I hope to verify what I have heard, namely that as you leave the city and climb the hill this statue sits on, the community alongside the road becomes more and more poor.  The neediest are the ones who are physically closest to Christ.

If that’s true, wouldn’t it be so fitting?  God seems to have a preference for promoting the least likely candidates to the places of greatest honor. 

In continuing our discussion on God’s Heart for Service, there are several questions we will be asking during the challenging message on July 26.

  • Who exactly are the poor and needy?
  • Does God see their plight and hear their cries?
  • Why does God once again go contrary to human nature by picking the poor for special honor?
  • Why does God choose to identify himself with the frail, sick, hungry, lonely, and dying? 
  • And why does God choose to disguise himself in these lowly forms?

What do you think?  Leave a comment below. 

Feel free to click on the link to take a look at our Bible passage for the evening:  James 2:1-16.

And come join us this Sunday at 5 PM as we CONNECT with a challenging message called “Don’t dishonor the poor”.

Donate Blood. Save a life.

July 20, 2009


Question of the day:  If you had the opportunity to save a life, would you do it? 

We have all heard about community blood drives, but most of us have never actually donated blood.  And we all know that each donation could save a life.

We are pleased to be partnering with the Raytown EMS Department to promote a Blood Drive on Wednesday, July 29 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the Raytown EMS Station, 10020 East 66tth Terrace, in Raytown.

Please make an appointment today by going online to:, and be sure to use the Sponsor Code:  raytownems.

You may also contact Kim Lesage at (816) 737-6030 or

What is God doing in Raytown?

July 16, 2009


This week, we are welcoming the 5 members of the 2009 Vineyard Overland Park Summer Staff Team to work in Raytown. We are introducing the group to the experience of church planting by exposing them to a sample of business, government, church, school, and social agencies operating in the Raytown area.

We are also doing several service projects.

Throughout the week, we are asking the Team to investigate the answer to this question: “What is God doing in Raytown”. They will be presenting their findings at the worship service at 5 PM on Sunday evening.

FOLLOW UP NOTE (Added on Monday, July 20, 2009)

The Team did a great job last night summarizing their experiences in Raytown, which varied widely.  We did make an audio copy of the proceedings, which we are happy to make available to anyone who is interested.  Just click on the following link to listen to the entire worship service.

The Team Members were:

Anna Corey

Molly Hammack

Sam Corey

Zach Ross

Grace Cook

Here is a list of the 15 community contacts the Team worked with:

Ben Felder, Raytown Post

Jonathon Smith, RadioFreeRaytown

Benetti’s Coffee Experience

Raytown Christian Summer Lunch Outreach

River Christian Fellowship, Summer Lunch Distribution

Al Brown, Raytown Emergency Assistance Program

Jim Laney, ESL Program at St. Matthews Episcopal Church

Vickie Turnbow, Raytown Chamber of Commerce

Building Puppet Stage for Community Events

Southeast Enterprises Sheltered Workshop

Alderman Shane Par-due

Fiesta Azteca Restuaurant

Kansas City Baptist Temple

Raytown Vineyard Swap Meet Ministry

Raytown Vineyard Home Group

Don’t serve harder. Serve lighter!

July 9, 2009


This week, we launch a series on “God’s Heart for Service”.  Our Bible text will be Isaiah 58.

This is very challenging passage that asks us to consider our worship of God as “incomplete” until we meet the physical needs of the world around us.

For some of us, the common response is to take these admonitions to serve the needy, and add them to our already overcommitted lives.  From experience, we recognize that this simply won’t work. 

Somewhere down the road, we reach acknowledgment of our failure to successfully add one more thing to our crowded lives.  At that point, we  try to soothe our guilt by pointing to the fact that at least service was “on our list”, even if we didn’t get to it. 

Or, we throw up our hands in failure, growing calluses on the part of our hearts that echoes God’s calling for us to be our brother’s keeper.

And I am sadly aware that this weekend’s challenging message introducing a message series on “God’s Heart for Service” could trigger another painful cycle of “guilt-overcommitment-failure”. 

But there’s good news…it doesn’t have to be that way!

What if God is not asking us to serve harder, but to serve lighter?

What if the real point of service is that its not about me?

What if the problem is not a lack of effort on our part to serve effectively, but rather the problem is that we are trying too hard?

What if my job is not to change the situation, but to lift up God in the situation?

In short, what is preventing us from stepping out of the way and let God do the heavy lifting? 

This weekend, we explore the God who wants to bless the world through us.  And who wants us to actually do more in our service by walking through life lighter, not harder.  After all, Jesus says “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.

What do you think?  Leave a comment below. 

And come join us this Sunday at 5 PM as we CONNECT with a challenging message called “Don’t serve harder.  Serve lighter!”.

Top 10 Ways You Can Participate with our Church Plant

July 7, 2009

Church Plant

As you may know, the Raytown Vineyard Church is considered a church plant.  But not the leafy green ficus you typcially find around a church sanctuary.  We are considered a church plant because we are a brand new church.

Whether you live around the block, or around the world, there are many ways that you can participate with us as we seek for God to grow our church.  Here, in no particular order, are 10 ways that you–yes, you–can participate with us:

1)  Continue to check out our website and learn more about what God is doing in Raytown:  We are adding new content every week.  Feel free to share what you learn with others.

2)  Join our Intercessory Prayer Team.  We send out a bullet point prayer update weekly.  We simply ask you to look over the items and let us know if you hear anything in your conversation with God.  To be included, please send a request to:

3)  Come share with us in person at the activity of your choice!  (For a list of upcoming events, click here.)

4)  Make a tax deductible contribution to the Raytown Vineyard Church.

5)  Send an encouraging note by mail.

6)  If you have friends and family in the greater Raytown area who you would like us to pray for, please let us know.  If they may be interested in visiting our church, please consider inviting them to come with you for a visit.

7)  Pick up the phone and call us with a word of encouragement.

8)  We are ALWAYS on the lookout for materials to offer kids fun craft activities.  If you have anything from coloring books to construction paper to beads, we can put them all to great use during our outreach events.

9)  Send an e-mail with some encouraging words.

10) Pray for us as often as we appear on your emotional radar.

11)  If you are on Facebook, come join our group!  Its called “Raytown Vineyard Church”. 

(Now if you are paying attention, you recognize that we posed this as a “top 10” list, and here we actually offered 11 items.  Sometimes we are like that.  You’ve heard of a bakers dozen?  Call it the Raytown Vineyard Top 10.)

Thank you to each one who has participated with us in some way over the past 6 months!  We are truly humbled by the ways that so many have contributed to our new church.

Raytown Vineyard is 6 Months Old!

July 5, 2009

Half Year Cake

This week, as we celebrate our 6 month birthday, we are especially aware of so many blessings.  Here are some highlights of what we have seen God do so far:

+We now have over 100 people serving on our Intercessory Prayer Team. 

+We have witnessed 3 adults give their lives to Jesus.

+We have baptized 5 adults and 1 nine year old.

+We have experienced numerical growth in several areas—especially in Ministry with Children.  The number of kids participating in our weekly worship service increased from an average of 13 kids each week in January to an average of 21 kids each week in June.  This last Sunday, we saw 27 kids!!!

+We have also ministered with an average of 200 kids (and their families) each Sunday in the Summer of Love Swap Meet Ministry.  (This ministry is scheduled to continue through the end of August.)

+We have provided simultaneous English/Spanish translation of our messages.

+We have experienced a strong level of multicultural multiracial participation, reflecting the demographics of our local community.

+We have developed strong partnerships with the city, the school district, local churches, the local media, and social service agencies.

+We have donated to eight other organizations doing great ministry in Raytown.  As a tithing church, we are committed to giving away the first 10% of funds received.

+We have met every single one of our financial commitments on time during this period.

+We have an outstanding core of leaders who are stepping up in every way!

There are plenty of ways to get involved, whether you live around the community, or around the world.  Be sure to check back later this week for a “Top 10” list of ways you can participate.

God Loves America!

July 3, 2009

Statue of Liberty

On this Independence Day weekend, we pause to reflect on the many blessings we share in our home country.  The United States has also been a nation of great blessing for many around the world.  We are leaders in many positive ways:  generosity, human rights, integrity, work ethic, caring, etc. 

But there are also things about this country that  bug us, or are just downright wrong. 

How does God feel about America? 

And as much as we love this country, is it possible that God actually loves America even MORE than we do?

Why is America such a blessed nation?

Pessimism about our nation seems to be contagious, even among followers of Jesus.  What actually happens when we are “down” about our country?  Does it really matter?

For years, America has been a great “sender” of Christian missionaries all over the world.  Why is America today the 3rd largest Christian mission field in the world?

And what are God’s plans for America?  Does God have a plan to reach America with supernatural love?

Is it a coincidence that we live in America?  Or does God have a plan for America that somehow involves us?

What do you think?  Leave a comment below. 

And come join us this Sunday at 5 as we CONNECT with a challenging message called “God Loves America!”.