God Loves the Grieving

May 17, 2015


Today Vickie Mears brought a message on God’s love for the Grieving.  Vickie works in Community Education with Crossroads Hospice.

Vickie brought these examples of Loss/Grief in the Scripture:

  • Hannah – infertility, public shame in that era
  • Job – multiple losses of monumental proportions.
  • Paul regarding his friend Epaphrodituus:  Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. (Philippians 2:27)
  • Jesus mourned over Lazarus in John 11:35 and over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-39.

Vickie brought an outstanding message.  Feel free to check it out here.

National Day of Prayer, 2015 (A Guilt-Free Message on Prayer)

May 3, 2015


Thursday, May 7 will be the “National Day of Prayer”.

This week, we took a look at John 17:20-26 and shared a message on the National Day of Prayer, 2015.

If you would like to listen to the message, just click here.

Here are the main thoughts we explored together:

  1. God is UNITY.
  2. God demonstrates our identity to the World through Unity.
  3. God hears Jesus’s prayer for togetherness.
  4. God invites us to pray in Jesus’s name.
  5. God is sending a fresh wave of prayer to the USA.

Here are some questions to ask as we are reading and meditating on the Word:

Who is God?

How does God see me?

How can I pursue God?

National Day of Repentance, 2015

April 26, 2015


Thursday, April 30 will been declared the “National Day of Repentance”.  This will be the 152nd Anniversary of the National Day of Humiliation, Prayer, and Fasting called by President Abraham Lincoln.

This week, we took a look at 2 Chronicles 7 and shared a message on National Day of Repentance, 2015.

If you would like to listen to the message, just click here.

Here are the main thoughts we explored together:

  1. God is complete without us.
  2. God wants us to live in the joy of his unhurried togetherness
  3. God forgives us when we confess our sin to Him. God heals us when we confess our sin to another. God rewires our minds when we repent.
  4. Godly repentance doesn’t come from guilt, but from Godly sorrow over lost opportunity for togetherness.
  5. God is sending a fresh wave of repentance to the USA.

Here are some questions to ask as we are reading and meditating on the Word:

Who is God?

How does God see me?

How can I pursue God?

God’s Plan for Addicts

April 12, 2015


Today Mark French brought a message about God’s Plan for addicts.  Based on his history of seeing hundreds of people through Celebrate Recovery, Mark shared many helpful insights.  We encourage you to listen here.

One of the many highlights Mark shared included this passage, from Isaiah 61:1-4:

The Year of the Lord‘s Favor

61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.

Resurrection Gifts

April 5, 2015


This week, we took a look at Matthew 28:1-10 and shared a message on Resurrection Gifts.

If you would like to listen to the message, just click here.

Here are the main thoughts we explored together:

  1. God’s timing is not like our timing.
  2. God invites us into eternal life with Him.
  3. God wants us to experience Him.
  4. God is willing to go out of order to woo us.
  5. God is drawing us into deeper relationship with Him.

Here are some questions to ask as we are reading and meditating on the word:

Who is God?

How does God see you?

How can you please Him?

Is this what Simple Church looks like?

November 9, 2014


Getting to Church

This morning begins like any other Sunday Morning at our Home Church. Immediately after breakfast at 8, the host family turns into a Prep Team to turn our Living Room into a Church Sanctuary—Dad, Mom, 9-year old, and 8-year old.  We move the tables, sofas, chairs, and coffee table.  We vacuum and dust.  We turn on all the lights, and open the shades.  Mom finishes preparing the Baked Ziti, kids prepare their offerings, we print out song sheets (20 today—we always want “more than enough”) and stuff them with offering envelopes and prayer request cards.

Mom starts playing through the worship for the morning, filling the Home Church with praise, while the rest of the family continues getting themselves ready for the guests.

The Church Family starts arriving about 9:45—church starts at 10 AM.  Oftentimes, the kids are the designated “greeters”—welcoming everyone from their post on the front porch.  Some enter through the front door, and others through the back.  This particular morning, the congregation includes ages 70’s, 60’s, 40’s, 30’s, Teens, and Pre-teens.  We are African American, Latino, and White.

Coming Together in Crisis

This morning, as we are in worship, I receive a text from a church member:  “My family is real crisis this morning. It’s been going on for a while and I haven’t asked for prayer or said anything, but today I really need a spiritual intervention. I want to come to church, but I don’t know. There is a real stronghold on our family right now. We may or may not be there. Please pray.” 

The family in crisis arrives during worship.  They are at a point of tears, and while one member is quietly praying for them, I verify that it is “OK” for them to share their burden today with our church.  After worship, I introduce the idea that part of our role as the Body of Christ is to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “grieve with those who grieve”.  We invite people to share ways God had shown His goodness since we last met.  About ½ of the adults bring paragraph testimonies for a total of about 10 minutes.

Our three 9-year old girls serve Communion.  One is African American, one is a Single Child of a Single Mom, and one is part of a “blended family”.  Everybody takes the few steps to come forward and receive.  Young rowdy kids and grandmas with canes.  Multi cultural, multi generational, multi ethnic.  The Body of Christ.

During announcements, we point to the basket for offerings, then we pray for the preteen kids and release them to their Sunday School.  Adults stand up, grab a cup of coffee, and move the chairs into a circle.

A Change of Plans

Rather than continuing directly into our scheduled Bible Study on “Who is Jesus” based on Mark 2, we feel God is asking the Body of Christ to be a true family, to come around the struggling, and offer “listening ministry”.  The text’s author confesses that she was feeling like an “awful Mom”, and had a serious argument with her teenage daughter this morning.  But this is just the “tip of the iceberg”—she feels like a failure all the time.

As a group, we ask her teenage daughter, who is sitting on the same couch, to tell us how she is feeling.  She cries out she feels “unimportant and ignored all the time”…that nobody can hear her, and that she feels all alone.  Many in the room react with understanding to those feelings.

Bearing one another’s Burdens

We continue a discussion with both, sharing ideas and asking for feedback to make sure we are “hearing correctly” and not going in a tangent.  After about 15 minutes, it becomes clear to both Mom and Daughter that they are in a place of continuing to believe lies about themselves…they are NOT actually “awful Mom”, “unimportant”, etc.

One of the group sits up and said “it sounds like you are being abused…you are abusing yourself”.  When Mom agrees with that statement, someone says “would you like to forgive yourself”?  We guide Mom through the process of forgiving herself, asking God for forgiveness for believing the lies, and declaring God’s truth about her.

As we finish helping her pray through this, we remind Mom that the lies will come back as soon as she leaves the front door, but she has the choice to reject the lies, and be quick to forgive herself when she fails again, asking for God’s forgiveness too.

Sharing A Meal

We invite someone to pray over our group and the meal, and we share lunch!  We go through the lunch line and find a place to sit at the dining room table or in the living room (adjoining).  Kids and adults mingle over lunch, then kids go play downstairs until parents are ready to leave.

Each week, we share whatever people bring.  This week, its Baked Ziti, Tortilla casserole, salad, chips and salsa, hot dogs (for the kids) .

God’s Unplanned Plan for Kids Ministry

Ironically, at the VERY SAME TIME, God was dealing with our kids downstairs with the VERY SAME MESSAGE!  A 6 year old boy said “I feel like my older sister hates me”.  As a group, the teacher gathered up the kids, skipped the planned lesson, and invited the group to share about how to go through the forgiveness that leads to freedom, and  how to replace lies with the truth.

As we compared notes over lunch, we were SO AMAZED that God had our WHOLE church doing the same lesson today, as a group. Although we had plans to do something else, we strive to really listen to what the Holy Spirit wants to do, and we have space and grace to go with that.

Good Byes

Next week, we will come back to the planned lessons.  We were ready this week, and we will be ready next week.  Wait, because of the way we gathered around family in crisis, hopefully we will be even MORE ready to share the planned Bible readings next week….

Most people are gone by 1 PM…but we have never “kicked out” anyone.  We leave and go about the rest of our Sundays…on the way out, many hugs and “keep in touch”.

Is this a “successful” Sunday morning church service in a Simple Church?

Welcoming the Tendon Family on Sunday, October 26

October 22, 2014



We are happy to welcome back the Tendon family on Sunday, October 26. They have recently returned from a one year term in France, and will be sharing what the Lord is doing in Europe and in their lives.

Doors open at 9:45 AM and we begin singing at 10.

Because we are coordinating a lunch to share, please RSVP either on the Facebook Event Page or by email at:  raytownvineyard@gmail.com.