Discples


Great is our LORD, and mighty in power; HIS understanding is infinite.   Psalm 147:5 (NIV)

Watching the news we understand the difficulties of life we experience are insignificant to the challenges some other people have. A mother lost her child in a drive by shooting in DC. In Baltimore, a 12 year old girl was held up at gun point on her way to school. Sub Zero temperatures, abnormally high snow fall, and avalanches have blanketed most of the country, and the list goes on and on. We see the people that have been affected and the devastation that has occurred in their lives.

We find hope in knowing that the Lord, our God, is great and mighty in power.  We can face our situations with God because we know there is no barrier that we will face that God cannot handle.  The temporary discomforts we endure are bearable knowing that the Creator of the Universe will be there with us through the challenges.  Knowing God goes before me in the battles of life comforts me in a way no human council can comfort me.  We do not have to rejoice in the sorrow, challenges or suffering of others to experience how wonderful God is.  God not only knows what we are going through, but God also understands every circumstance, every condition, and every challenge.

I often have to explain my different emotions and expressions to my daughter as she is navigating the inquisitive stage of life.  It is often a challenge to explain emotions like exhilarated, exasperated and exuberant. My 12 year old is navigating her own set of emotions, like comprehending the sadness of losing a relative, understanding the adventure of mountain climbing, and sharing the anticipation of going to her first school dance-it can be a daunting task.  My encouragement for her is also encouragement for me. God understands and is with us on the journey. Whatever the range of emotions you may be experiencing, God understands and is with you.

 Prayer:  Creator God, Your strength and power are all we need to endure this life.  Teach us to trust in you alone.

 

“Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:22-25 (NRSV)

Why is it important for Christians to gather? Some people would say we need to gather to collect offerings, so the church can survive. Others may think that it is necessary to gather because church is the place where God can be worshiped by God’s people. I have heard also that when people miss church, they feel empty. We need to remember that Paul is writing for the first century church, which is not probably the same image we think about church today.

Churches back in that time were basically houses hosting a few people who gathered clandestinely to know more about this Jesus, the son of God. They were simultaneously surrounded by multiple gods lifted up by people who praised living kings and rulers from the empires.

Paul, once convicted about Jesus’ love, talks about the power of gathering, because by getting together, it gives identity to the people of God. Identity in love, compassion, grace, and favor. Identity that is marked by the faith. Faith in the one who came to give his life against all political systems imposed. Through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, Paul was able to teach that a king is not the one who rules through oppression, but who loves with such power that it brings hope to those lacking of it.

Gathering on a regular basis helps us to build self-discipline, and while the discipline takes place, our souls are transformed gradually to become what God intents for us. How? Through gatherings we may see the reflection of our sinful nature in each other, and at the same time we may reflect the grace that God provides. As part of congregational formation, the transformation may occur to help us grow as individuals, as well as Body of Christ.

Now, the challenge that Paul brings us in this letter is to not only taking the image of gatherings in a place like our church, but also taking this personal and communal formation to other spheres of lives: home, work, friends, and enemies with the purpose to see “one another to love and good deeds.”  It liberates us, frees us, and reshapes us.

 Prayer: God almighty. Guide us to intentionally be open to your voice, so we can take the church -your church- with us wherever we go. Break the barriers of our minds, hearts, and souls, and change us in such a way that the transformation never ends. Please, forgive us for limiting your gatherings to one place. Merciful God, in your powerful son’s name, we pray. Amen.

Carlos Reyes
Infinite Grace Fellowship
Washington DC

2014 Lenten Devotional

You can request our Lenten devotional to be sent to you daily. Email to info@infinitegracefellowship.org

Full Article by The Barna Group

The 10 statements used to assess self-righteousness (like the Pharisees), included the following research items:

Self-Righteous Actions:

  • I tell others the most important thing in my life is following God’s rules.
  • I don’t talk about my sins or struggles. That’s between me and God.
  • I try to avoid spending time with people who are openly gay or lesbian.
  • I like to point out those who do not have the right theology or doctrine.
  • I prefer to serve people who attend my church rather than those outside the church.

Self-Righteous Attitudes:

  • I find it hard to be friends with people who seem to constantly do the wrong things.
  • It’s not my responsibility to help people who won’t help themselves.
  • I feel grateful to be a Christian when I see other people’s failures and flaws.
  • I believe we should stand against those who are opposed to Christian values.
  • People who follow God’s rules are better than those who do not.

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Barna Group
April 30, 2013

This article is from theresurgence.com  I found it to be informative

Article Link – http://theresurgence.com/2013/05/23/the-places-grace-empowers-us

In fact, God’s grace grounds and empowers everything in the Christian life. Grace is the basis for:

  • Our Christian identity: “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).
  • Our standing before God: “. . . this grace in which we stand” (Rom. 5:2).
  • Our behavior: “We behaved in the world . . . by the grace of God” (2 Cor. 1:12).
  • Our living: Those who receive “the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 5:17) by the “grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7).
  • Our holiness: God “called us to a holy calling . . . because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Tim. 1:9).
  • Our strength for living: “Be strengthened by the grace that is in Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:1) for “it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace” (Heb. 13:9).
  • Our way of speaking: “Let your speech always be gracious” (Col. 4:6).
  • Our serving: “Serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:10).
  • Our sufficiency: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9), “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8)
  • Our response to difficulty and suffering: We get “grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16), and when “you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace . . . will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Pet. 5:10).
  • Our participation in God’s mission: As recipients of grace we are privileged to serve as agents of grace. Believers receive grace (Acts 11:23), are encouraged to continue in grace (Acts 13:43), and are called to testify to the grace of God (Acts 20:24). In John 20:21, Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” God’s mission is to the entire world (Isa. 49:6Matt. 28:19Acts 1:813:47).
  • Our future: God, and his grace, is everlasting. “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).
  • Our hope beyond death: “Grace [reigns] through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:21).

The gospel is all about God’s grace through Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul calls it “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) and “the word of his grace” (Acts 14:320:32; cf. Col. 1:5–6).

Image“I believe that God has been working on me my whole life.  Every experience that I have had, both good and those that have been challenging, have led me to this point.  In Christ, I am a new creation that comes to the table with all of my past experiences and with my hope in Him for the future.  My prayer is that at Infinite Grace Fellowship, God would empower each of us to impact the lives of those in our community for the Kingdom of God and that the Good News would be spread far and wide both in word and in action to make disciples of Christ to then make more disciples of Christ.  We are going to be doing church differently and it is exciting!”

For immediate release July 6, 2013

____________________________________________________________
CHRIS DEMBECK APPOINTED AS NEW CAMPUS PASTOR AT WEST BALTIMORE UMC/INFINITE GRACE PARISH

Mr. Christopher Dembeck. has been appointed as a campus pastor for the West Baltimore United Methodist Church and Infinite Grace United Methodist Church by resident Bishop Marcus Matthews of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Christopher Dembeck began his duties at West Baltimore July 1. The church is located at 5130 Greenwich in Baltimore, on the city’s historic “40 West” corridor.

Mr. Dembeck, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, was formerly a technical recruiter for various technical and non-technical growing companies within the Baltimore Washington Corridor and assisted them in finding and hiring top IT talent in the region.

Chris has been attending and volunteering at Catonsville United Methodist Church for several years in different roles including: High School Sunday School teacher, Stephen Minister, and Contemporary Worship leader.  Just this year Chris has been confirmed as a Certified Candidate for Ordained Ministry by the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Chris is married to Laura Dembeck, and they have one daughter, Ava and one son, Samuel.  Chris earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a Marketing concentration from Towson University.  He will be starting Seminary full-time in the Fall at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C.

The Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church is comprised of 694 congregations with nearly 200,000 members. It is the home of Methodism in America, with the founding of the denomination at Lovely Lane Chapel in 1784.

 

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Lent is a time of reflection, repentance and refocus on the life of Christ. Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of our 40 day time of preparation. I would like to invite you to join me in reconnecting with our foundational spiritual disciplines of reading the scriptures, praying, fasting, giving and journaling. The Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church has produced an online devotional to engage the journey. Join us daily : http://www.instantflipbook.com/flipbooks/9ec6e33dd9/

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 I have been consulting with congregations and pastors for 20 years around their “worship wars”.  Very few weeks go by where I do not get questions about how to negotiate the introduction, financing, purpose, or function of an alternative service.  In mainline denominations the “traditional” service is usually the strongest service where the people who serve on all of the administrative committees have the power to open the doors or shut the doors to a new service prospering.

It is amazing how many church councils have a clear conscience in voting on a budget that provides the traditional service with a $25,000 budget and then they give the alternative service $5,000 to start up and sustain themselves.  The cycle has become quite predictable.  When the church leaders evaluate the new service for vitality they claim that there are not enough people, the level of ministry is not equal to the excellence that they currently experience in traditional worship is not reflected in the new service and “it is taking the pastor’s time away from concentrating on our service”. 

New services tend to reach new people who are not indoctrinated in our church centered world. They may not be instantly committed and often do not give significantly at the beginning.  New services are excellent opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who are far from God or have been hurt by the church in a casual, conversational and caring worship environment.  By eliminating the alternative service you are removing God’s children from the fountain of grace that should be flowing throughout the entire congregation.  

“The responsibility of the older, more mature members in starting a new worship service is to pray for it and pay for it”  Bill Easum  

He said this many years ago and now in my role as Guide, coach and consultant I understand the wisdom clearly.  It takes money to get a worship leader who can build, develop and disciple band members.  It takes finances to get the appropriate multimedia equipment and sound reinforcement.  It takes pray to strengthen the prodigals that are searching for God. The leaders, who are pursuing the vision of reaching the lost, left out and marginalized in your community need prayer for wisdom and guidance.  It takes finances to do community outreach and connect the church to the needs of people in the community.  If you expect the same excellence that is present in the established service, you have to budget appropriately.  This may mean cutting the traditional service budget so that the kingdom of God can flourish.  True community is where the people live with all things in common including finances.

As mainline churches seek to be relevant to this generation, I suspect that the worship wars will continue.  One guiding principle is you can’t cheap thrill excellence.  And the second is the responsibility of the mature body of disciples is to “pray for it and pay for it”.

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