Dear Grace Family,
I’m been thinking a lot about my personal walk with God lately. After having been a Christian the majority of my life, you’d think I’d have it down to a science by now. After all, God isn’t afraid to show off His love to us, and He certainly shows up every time we need Him to. So with that lesson planted deep inside me from years of seeing Him move and work in my life, why would I even consider wandering off the path?
But our human nature can just get in the way. We allow little trials to become huge obstacles, sometimes taking the hardest path instead the easiest route. And more often than not, we can find ourselves lost in our own backyard.
Remember Ferdinand the bull? He was a gentle soul who, instead of being a terror in the bullring as was expected of him, only wanted to smell the flowers. He looked fierce enough, and everyone around him tried to fit him into the mold they thought looked like his destiny. But deep inside he knew what he wanted to do and what he was created to be, and he just wouldn’t fit himself into a different role for anyone else.
Could it be that we spend so much time trying to fit into someone else’s idea of us, that we don’t know who we are really created to be? We pursue a dream that we believe is our destiny, but then see a flower off in the distance and run over to sniff it… and we’ve wandered away again. Maybe it’s not so much that we can’t stay focused on the road ahead, but that we were never on the right path to start with.
I’m starting a study in the book of James. It reads like the story of my life. James 1:5 says “if you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him, and He will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom…” But verse six goes on to warn, “but when you ask Him, be sure that you really expect Him to tell you.”
We ask God a lot about staying on the path, but perhaps the better question would be “is this the right path?” As I used to tell my son, “we need to put our listening ears on.” We might want the glory of being the fiercest bull in the ring, but God may have a completely different idea of what we should be. We must continually ask God if we're on track – and we really have to expect He’s going to let us know, even when the answer might not fit the image of what we want it to.
I run a small music studio in the town where I live. Students come to me for a variety of reasons. Some because their parents are either trying to live out their own dreams, or just believe the student has an aptitude or will benefit from piano or vocal lessons. Some come in because they’re enamored with the music scene and lifestyle --usually that means they want to be the next adored popstar. But some come in just because they have a deep and abiding love for music.
I can usually tell within a few weeks, who will be successful and who will not. And that’s not necessarily measured by natural talent. Some have that, but lack the drive to pursue music with the passion that’s required. Some don’t initially seem to have the innate talent, but they are so relentless in the pursuit that they develop the skills. As a teacher and lover of music – and one who does have that call on my life – I can sense it my students. How much more attuned to us is God?
In the Message Bible, James 1:22-24 says “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other.” Ouch! “Act on what you hear. Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.”
It’s not “letting words,” lower case w – but let the “Word”—upper case w-- go in one ear and out the other. We know what that means! Maybe we can’t stay on the path because it’s not the one paved for us. So when we look at ourselves, we’re seeing who we want to be – not who we were created to be. That would certainly explain why we don’t recognize ourselves half the time. You can dress like a popstar, move like a popstar, and dream about being a popstar -- but that doesn’t make you a popstar.
But here’s the promise and the solution in verse 25. “But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.”
Now that’s fierceness! God has a plan for us, and we want to stay right in the middle of His will. But first, we have to allow Him to tell us which path we should be on. That’s the only road that will lead to contentment and success.
Be blessed my Grace family. God is on the throne!
As you know, given the recent spike in Covid-19, and our Governor’s new mandates, we have suspended services until the situation is under control. We do this out of an abundance of love for our Grace family. While we know that God is completely in control and will cover us with His great protection, we also know He gave us a sound mind and good shepherds to make the tough decisions. We love you and are so looking forward to a time when we can return to normal worship. We love you! Hope you will join us on Facebook at 10 am tomorrow! We might have to take the worship out of the church, but no one can ever take the worship out of God's people.
Thank you for your continued faithfulness in your tithes and offerings so we can maintain our ability to reach out to a needy world. You can give online here, or mail your checks to 3144 N G Street, Suite 125 PMB 308 Merced, CA 95340.
Sr. Pastor Eric Domen has been in ministry for more than 15 years, having worked as an assisting Pastor and Youth Pastor at Victory Life Center in Merced prior to coming to Grace. He was recently honored with Ordination through the ICFG, and has made a smooth transition into his position as Senior Pastor. He holds a degree in Counseling, and has a heart for the people of our community. Pastor E resides in Merced with his wife and children.
Pastor Bobbie Frye is our Administrative Pastor. She has been in ministry for more than 20 years, and is a 3rd generation Foursquare Pastor. She is a writer and musician, and takes care of Womens Ministries and Worship Arts. She has a background in Procurement and Marketing, in addition to her pastoral experience. Pastor Bobbie resides in Merced.