NEWS AND EVENTS

Thoughts From The Journey 02-2019

Photo of Marc Sanders

Rev. Marc Sanders

I don’t know of many of us who are eagerly praying for another snow this year. The confinement that the snow and cold has forced upon us this winter has created a longing for the warm climes of summer. Yet, let us sit for a while longer in winter, for there are a couple of lessons to learn that I think will be beneficial to us.
 
   I adore the beauty of freshly fallen snow. Its pure and spotless surface covers over the barren dankness of winter turning everything into a glistening wonderland. If the snow is deep enough, it is almost impossible to deter-mine the sloping contours of the yard thereby leveling out the entire landscape. Sadly, this beauty is destroyed by the first footprint as often the desire to go and play around in the snow wins out over the urge to maintain the snow’s purity. I cannot think of anything that is more bleak than dirty snow. Snow is not supposed to be dirty, it’s too pure for that, my heart screams. It occurs to me that dirty snow though is a great description of our souls. God’s forgiveness leaves our souls as pristine as newly fallen snow. We choose to mar it by going out and playing around in sin. I can hear you say, “but playing in snow is so much fun!!” Yes, I know, and I know of many who say that playing around in sin is just as much fun. Yet, just as we are told to stay off the roads for our own safety after the snow, so too does God’s Word instruct us to do the same with sin in our own lives. The question is why are we willing to listen to fallible authorities and ignore the infallible Creator of all?
 
   Secondly, the saddest thing I see in the days after a snow are snowmen. The temperatures rise to much warmer ranges and here are these frozen reminders that seem completely out of context to the world around them. It seems to me that we often find ourselves in the same predicament. We become frozen in our thoughts and actions and fall out of step with where God would have us be at the present. The snowman was great for that day, but its joy and beauty creates an air of sadness on those later days that bear little resemblance to those now past. We can long for them to come back and protect us, but sadly the chances of that happening are slim. The snowman at this stage is but an ever-decreasing picture of its former glory. Beloved, let us never become snowmen of faith, but let us always set ourselves to the task to grow in the grace and witness of our God. Let us not be where God has us to be yesterday, but where He wants us today as we seek out where He would have us be tomorrow.
 
   Blessings,
   Marc


Thoughts From The Journey 01-19

   A new year has dawned and with it all the uncertainties that accompany a fresh beginning. Will this year bring success or failure? Will this year bring us good health, or will it be a year of immense physical frustration? Will this year finally bring the fulfillment of a long-held dream or will it usher in dashed hopes? It would be incredibly nice if we could answer all of those questions right now so that we could be prepared for whatever may arise, but sadly we are not afforded such capabilities.
 
   However, there are some helpful things we can remember based around the life of Abel that I think will insure a successful navigation of 2019’s unknown waters. One, Hebrews 11:4 tells us that Abel lived by faith. Faith, by its very nature, is a darkness that we cannot navigate apart from grabbing the hand of the one who can carry us through. If we walk in faith, relying on the providence of God to steer our course, we know that even when the course is choppy, God is in control. So very often, our world is rocked because we rely solely on our capabilities and the visible to carry us through. Such actions do not meet the definition of walking by faith, but instead show us that we walk by sight.
 
   Secondly, Abel’s faith caused him to live a life that was devoted solely to the glory of God. The blood sacrifice that Abel offered in Genesis 4 was an acknowledgment of the sin in his life and his need for forgiveness. Cain failed to offer such a sacrifice, essentially stating that he knew best how to run his life and didn’t need anything from God. Such a course is dangerous and ultimately precipitated Abel’s murder by Cain. When we believe we are self-sufficient and do not need God or simply pay lip service to our need for Him, we place ourselves as the center of the universe instead of God. We deflect proper glory from the Creator to the created. God will never stand for that and we must be constantly on guard to protect ourselves from such mindsets that lead to our ruin.
 
   Finally, let us remember the last words of Hebrews 11:4 that because of Abel’s faith, though he died, he still speaks. It has occurred to me as I have reflected on this line that we all will continue to speak after death, it’s simply a matter of what will we say? Abel’s faith speaks loudly throughout the intervening centuries, as does Cain’s lack of faith. Let us live lives that speak so loudly that we will be for-ever remembered like Abel and Enoch and the assembled cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11. Let our lives be a testament to the glory and goodness of God so that we are obscured by the image of God we present. Truly, if we do this, 2019 will be a year of success as we feast on the bounty of God.
 
Blessings,
Marc


Thoughts From The Journey 12-18

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned in a Sunday sermon that as a church we were the front door of Heaven which necessitated that our composition looks like Heaven. I referenced Revelation 7 which states, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” To be sure, if our worship is to look like Heaven then it requires us to reach out to the multitude of ethnicities that populate Alamance County.
 
Something that is required of us before we engage in such an effort is to have some understanding of the cultures we are attempting to reach. To that end, I will be speaking on the global face of Jesus during Advent. It is important for us to remember that other cultures do not always view Jesus in the same manner that we do. However, just as the four Gospels each give us a different witness to Jesus’ life and work that deepens our understanding of Him, so too does studying the various ways the rest of the world’s Christians relate to and worship Jesus expand our relationship with Bethlehem’s babe.
 
One of the things that I have enjoyed doing throughout my life is learning about other places and customs. It has enabled me to take the best that I have gleaned from my studies and apply them to my own life. I sincerely hope that our Advent worship will enable each of us to do the same thing with not only our discipleship, but our witness. I pray that it will enable us to reach out to all with whom we come in contact and let them know that Christmas is a celebration of just how great God’s love is for each of us and invite them to experience that love for themselves. I also pray that each of us would experience that love afresh in new and powerful ways this Christmas as we give thanks to God for His great love for us.
 
Merry Christmas,
Marc


Gifts of Hope Partners

 
Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’
 
– Matthew 25:34-40

How Does This Work?

   C.S. Lewis once asked “Can it really be my duty to buy and receive masses of junk every winter?” Some may find his question harsh, but we all lament that Christmas has morphed into an ungodly materialist celebration rather than one centered on Christ’s birth. The sad reality is that the Good News of the angels is now good news about where to find the best bargains.
 
   We want to take Christmas back from the commercialism through our Alternative Christmas Market. We propose to replace one of your gifts to a friend or family member with one of the options contained within. We will supply you with a card explaining the nature of your gift and you will not only have given one gift, but two. Herein is the beauty of the Alternative Christmas Market, your gift also helps spread the Gospel to someone in need here at home, in some other part of our nation and even our world.
 
   Please complete the form to choose your gifts and we will then mail you gift cards and envelopes for your selections. It should also be noted that your purchases are considered tax-deductible. If you can’t make it on opening day (November 18th) please download and complete the form HERE, and bring it by the church with your donation.
 
So, how about it? Are you tired of the message of Christmas being replaced with a lesson on materialism? Come join us then at the Alternative Christmas Market.


Thoughts From The Journey 08-18

I recently heard one of the most unique reasons behind a sports loss I have ever known as I caught the end of the World Cup match between Sweden and England. The announcer stated that Sweden’s loss was due to “insufficient imagination.” Now, as a Carolina fan I have come up with some interesting theories as to why we lost but was not nearly imaginative enough to blame “insufficient imagination.” I am afraid I do not know enough about soccer to know whether the Swedes having a sufficient imagination would have secured them victory, however I do think an “insufficient imagination” is a condition from which a lot of Christians suffer.

One of the prayers we will be studying this month during our Sunday evening Bible study is Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3. His prayer concludes with one of the greatest challenges to a Christian found in Scripture: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we can ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” I confess I have always read this as a challenge from God to see just how big I can pray. It’s almost like He is nudging me saying, “Come on, I can do things bigger than you can cook up in your head, pray bigger.” The wonderful thing is that as I have found Him faithful to answer these ever-increasing prayers, I have seen what I thought to be impossible occur repeatedly. It is helpful to remember sometimes that we serve a God who majors in doing the impossible because then only He gets the glory.

So, let me ask you how big is your imagination? Do you ever day dream about what God can do here at Grove Park? I believe that God is ready to do unbelievable things for His Kingdom through Grove Park. He is simply awaiting us to dream and pray. For instance, can you imagine what it would look like if we were blessed to baptize an adult every week for a solid year? Let us take it a step farther and imagine if you were the one who led a particular week’s baptism candidate to faith, how would that impact your prayer and faith life? Now, let us acknowledge that God can do “far more abundantly” than that and pledge ourselves to pray bigger such that our service to God may never be labeled as “insufficient imagination.”
 
Blessings,
Marc


Boone 2018

DEEP IMPACT – Boone, NC.

I had the privilege to attend to Deep Impact Mission Camp in Boone, NC with Avery Miles, and Kaden Lindberg. It was an incredible week of serving the community with outreach and evangelism. Both Kaden and Avery had an incredible week and you should all be proud of their efforts. Each of them was involved with a variety of projects as they became part of group that did just about everything. Part of their assignment landed them at the Hospitality House (hosphouse.org), a tremendous ministry that ranges from a homeless shelter, food distribution, job training, and family support. We assisted a crew that meets every Wednesday that cuts, splits and distributes firewood for people who can’t afford it, but rely on it to help them heat their homes and cook meals. We also helped them with their inventory, cleaning, as well as assembling 17 carts for use in their food handouts. The most challenging task was digging out for a concrete pad and drainage pipe that will be used to build a bus stop for the local transit service known as the “Apple Cart” for use of their residents and clients.

There were numerous other projects they participated in such as playing games with children at a local mobile home park and praying for the needs of the people in that development. Any needs in the area were reported back to the host church of the camp, First Baptist Boone. We also handed out flyers to promote the VBS week for the church, as well as information about the church. The most memorable was working for a local thrifts store called The Ram’s Rack Thrift Shop. We helped clean up and organize a break room for the staff, stocked shelves, sorted through numerous donation bins, and Avery found a sweet adidas jacket for $4.00! The money made from the shop is used to fund various ministries in the area ranging from clothing, home repairs, and food supplies. We closed out the week by cleaning out gutters, pressure washing a deck and cleaning windows for an elderly lady from the church.

Each day began with a 7am breakfast, an 8:15 departure time, and we returned at 3 each afternoon. The evening was concluded with a dinner, and worship time every night. Two young men from another church gave their life to Christ, and they were both baptized at an outdoor park nearby. We appreciate the support and prayers from all of you. It was a great trip and we’re all glad to be a part of it.

Blessings to each of you.

Love you guys,

John



Honduras 2018

We have completed another successful mission trip to Honduras with the NC Baptist Men’s Deep Impact Team. There were five different mission sites with over 70 people participating in VBS, pray walks, medical clinics and construction. Our GPBC team had a bit of a rocky start (loss of one to illness and another to bureaucratic “red” tape) but we followed God’s plan and God worked out all of our issues.

One of our favorite parts of this trip is to reunite with the friends we have made and continue to strengthen these relationships. It is through these special bonds that we are able to confirm to our friends how much God loves them and how badly he wants a personal relationship with them. VBS reached out to pre-school through high school and we again were able to minister to their spiritual needs.

The medical team assisted approximately 1,000 patients and were able to treat their different medical issues, i.e. fevers, flu, cold, wounds and much more. The construction team was able to complete their entire project and was even able to help with extra work around the church.

All these things are great and heartwarming; however, the best part is witnessing many coming to Christ and adding more brothers and sisters to the Kingdom. We are all so grateful to be able to return one more time to this special place and we appreciate all the financial and prayerful support we receive from our beloved members of Grove Park.

To God be the Glory,

The 2018 GPBC Honduras Team



Thoughts From The Journey

   I discovered recently while attending Chatham Central High School’s commencement exercises that I had lost my wedding ring. It was a hot day and we had parked far from the football field where the exercises were taking place. Scarlett had held my hand the length of our walk and I suspected she had inadvertently worked my ring off with her ever occurring spinning and dancing. Eliza and I searched diligently for the ring to no avail and even sought out others with more technical equipment to aid in our search. I put a message on Facebook concerning my loss. Friends shared it and still there was no sign of my ring. We reached the conclusion that, given the expanse of our search area and the amount of traffic that had traversed it at graduation, my wedding ring was impossibly lost.
 
   Then a miracle happened! Eliza was pulling clothes out of the hamper to wash, when she noticed something had fallen out of the cuff of the pants I had worn to graduation. There on the floor was my wedding ring. We found it amusing that it was literally right under our noses the whole time.
 
   My experience reminds me of how a lot of Christ followers treat their faith. We search diligently for what God wants us to do when most of the time it is right under our nose. We think that God is far off when He is right there with us. We find a task too impossible to ever achieve and give up when all God desires us to do is rest in Him and see Him work. Imagine what would happen if we looked at our faith, our calling, our love of God with fresh eyes instead of eyes dulled by the impossible. I think we would find ourselves invigorated and ready to charge ahead into what God is calling us to do. I confess that I have acquired a fresh appreciation for my wedding ring since I thought I had lost it forever. I feel it’s weight on my finger much like I did when I first started wearing it nine years ago. Let us resolve to feel afresh the weight of God in our lives that our worship and service to Him be greater than it has ever been.
 
   Blessings,
   Marc


EVENTS

DECEMBER 6-8: PASTOR OUTREACH IN BALTIMORE, MD
DECEMBER 9: LOTTIE MOON INGATHERING (DURING AM WORSHIP)
DECEMBER 11: ALAMANCE CHORALE: “Christmas Presence” 7:30 PM
DECEMBER 19: LONGEST NIGHT SERVICE
DECEMBER 20: YOUTH ALL-NIGHTER
DECEMBER 22-23: LIVE NATIVITY (6PM-8PM)
DECEMBER 24: CHRISTMAS EVE CANDLELIGHT COMMUNION