Elder and Deacon Nominations

download (68)This is to remind you to nominate candidates for elder and for deacon (and deacons can be men or women) by going to our website, or clicking the appropriate link here for Elder or Deacon. Remember you can nominate more than one candidate, and we hope you will. We know that it’s a bit more work, but we want to know why you nominate each person–that helps the nominating committee do a better job of evaluation. Thanks! Nominations need to be in by October 11th!


I Finally See the Mountains!

An event 35 years ago reminds me that what’s real isn’t always visible

By: Pastor Craig Miller

d5c17156-44f8-4ca2-bef1-ef7bdaf0f945One of my favorite stories from my early ministry days happened about one month after I started seminary and my work at First Baptist Church of San Bernardino. It was quite a time for me, having driven cross country in a Buick Opel in August (without air conditioning) to begin both work and seminary in a new place. My mentor, Al Somers, was my senior pastor, and I was living in a small house on our church property, surrounded by the church buildings.

I left every Tuesday through Friday morning at 6:10 am to drive the 55 miles from San Bernardino to Talbot Seminary in La Mirada. It was three freeways and 2 major surface streets and traffic was already getting thick every day as I got off the freeway and headed to school. I often stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the way if I had time, but when traffic was bad, getting there in time for my 7:30 class could be dicey–and it was Intermediate Greek that year, so I didn’t want to be late and fall behind.

Like every other day thus far, I arrived on time, went to my first two classes, then to chapel, and then my final class for the day. I finished at 12:30, stopped at Del Taco for lunch (if you don’t know what it is, you’ve missed out and I can’t help you), and then headed home. I’d be in my office before 2:00 pm and work until 9 or so, breaking for dinner at some point.

On that day, I was driving home, listening to the radio turned up to be heard over the wind coming in my open windows (remember, I had no a/c) as I drove as fast as traffic would allow to get  home and get cool. I wasn’t really thinking about the drive until about 40 minutes from home, and then I almost drove off the road!

I don’t recognize where I am! There are mountains to my left, my right, and ahead of me. Those ahead were snow-capped! What happened? Did I make wrong turn?

I glanced at the side of the road and saw the freeway sign; I was on Interstate 10 East, where I needed to be. The next exit ahead was one I recognized. But I didn’t recognize the scenery!

Slowly it dawned on me that the day had been more than a little breezy, with a condition that natives called “the Santa Ana” winds blowing. The name was a corruption of a phrase for “devil winds,” and not a reference to the city of Santa Ana, but what they were were high winds coming over the mountains and blowing toward the ocean. These conditions brought dry air, warm temperatures, and most importantly, blew all the smog and haze in the air westward toward L.A. and the ocean, clearing out all the valleys along the way, including mine.

What I was seeing is what my new home looked like when the air was clear. And it was amazing to see! I lived in the shadow of the mountains!

Now, I knew there were mountains around me. I had driven over them to come into San Bernardino. But as I descended into the valley the bluish/brownish haze filled in, and when you looked around from my porch or from the church or from most of the city, you saw hazy sky, and you didn’t see the mountains unless you were really close. In that first month, I hadn’t gone anywhere other than church, home, school, and a few homes for dinner that didn’t give you any sort of panoramic view. So, while I had known they were there, I simply stopped thinking about them.

Until the air cleared, and I saw them. I think from that moment on, my perspective changed. I lived with mountains and valleys. I treasured the seasons when I could see them clearly (winter and spring were the best). And when I couldn’t see them I missed them, and longed to see them again. But now they were a part of my reality.

I think that we all have a tendency to forget about mountain-like realities that we may “know” exist but have been so obscured by the haze and pollution of our lives that we forget about them. What are some of the mountains we may be missing? Oh, how about…

  • God’s constant presence–“As the mountains surround Jerusalem (or San Bernardino), so the LORD surrounds his people”–Ps. 125:2
  • The Lord’s willingness to help–always. “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth”–Ps. 121:1-2
  • The reality of the spiritual realm of powers arrayed on our behalf, like Elisha’s servant was made able to see on the mountain where they were–2 Ki 6:17
  • The promise of dwelling in God’s presence in a place he calls “my holy mountain”–Is 11:9, 56:7, 57:13, 65:25

I’ve only used four, and I’ve only used references that referred to “mountains” because they were easy. But there are so many more such realities. God’s promises to us and his descriptions of what truly is and will be are powerful, but often missed when sin–including our own–pollutes our environment to the point we don’t see or remember anymore.

So, I’m here to shout to you today, “The mountains are there!” And I’m praying that God sends a strong east wind your way to clear the valley and remind you once again of his realities!

The Ten Words Series Catch-Up

nullHave you missed any of the Ten Words Series messages? Well, this blog post is for you! Find all the information about the Ten Words Series here!

The Ten Words Series | A Reintroduction to an Old Friend | #1

Audio | Notes

The Ten Words Series | God Above All | #2

Audio | Notes

The Ten Words Series | Sabbath Rest | #3

Audio | Notes

The Ten Words Series | Parental Honor | #4

Audio | Notes


Congregational Vote Results


This past Sunday the congregation voted and approved all three of the ballot items:

1. To approve the proposed constitution revisions as presented. (Passed with an 81% yes vote)

2. Assuming the passage of item #1, to then approve the recommendation of the deacons to form the transitional Elder and Deacon nomination committee responsible for presenting candidates to the congregation for the council of elders and new group deacons for 2016 (Passed with an 86% yes vote)

3. To grant licensure to Jim Phipps for Gospel Ministry (Passed with a 98% yes vote)

Now the work begins. The congregation is now responsible for nominating well-qualified men to be elders, and well-qualified men and women to serve as Deacons. Below you will see two buttons that will take you to the online versions of the nomination forms (also available via paper copy at the church office). We encourage you to nominate as many people from the congregation who you believe should seriously be considered. However, please use wisdom in whom you decide to nominate and prayerfully consider the responses you give to the nomination form questions.

Elder Nomination Form CLICK HERE            Deacon Nomination Form CLICK HERE

CedarFest Labor Day Parade

This coming Monday is the 2015 CedarFest Labor Day Parade with the theme of  “Proud to be an American”.  With that theme in mind, our Grace parade entry is recognizing our church military personnel.  We are inviting  any Grace member or attendee who is retired or current military personnel to participate by either walking or riding on the trailer we will have. We have a good number already signed up, but If you are interested in still joining this group, please email Kevin Reilly or call the church office at 766-2391. We would be honored if you would participate!

Global Outreach Update | Tim Marvin – Mount Hermon

By: Tim Marvin

The summer started off with much lack of confidence for me. I was comparing myself to the other counselors who were doing a great job and making it look very easy. I was having trouble jumping right into it all. The team came along side me and encouraged me through that, and as the weeks went on I grew in confidence and was able to just have more fun with the kids and be more relational with them. I learned much about myself and how I can grow closer to God and how my gifts and abilities can be better used for furthering God’s kingdom. The biggest thing I learned this summer is that I must find my identity in Christ, as a beloved child of God, because when I put my identity in the people who I so enjoy here on this earth, they will fail me because they not perfect and cannot be due to sin. I fell in love with the friends that I made out there who became my family as we built into each other to serve God, as well as the gorgeous creation that God had placed before me, from the red woods to the grand Pacific. God is good! Thank you so much for all the prayerful support, God was working out there and your prayers were much-needed!

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Global Outreach Update | Leah Winey – Camp Barakel

barakel oneBy: Leah Winey

I spent this summer as a camp counselor at this wonderful place called Camp Barakel. It was incredible, stretching, growing, hard, wonderful, and literally one of the best experiences of my life. By the way, I had never set foot there until I arrived for the summer. One of my good friend’s parents work there, which is how I heard about it. I didn’t realize how out of place I would feel until the first week of training, as I was surrounded by fellow counselors and staff who had grown up going to camp. They knew people I didn’t, activities I didn’t, and vocabulary I didn’t. I never went to summer camp as a kid; any experience I had was being a SEEKer to Scioto Hills. I remember breaking down and crying during the second week of training, because I was at the point where I didn’t know how I was going to be ready, or if I was going to click with everyone before summer began. And that was the beginning of seeing God’s provision throughout the summer. The next day, everything started falling into place. I started making friends who would become my best friends of the summer.

Throughout the summer, I counseled three weeks of junior highers, three weeks of elementary kids, and one week of high schoolers. It’s hard to explain the balance of how absolutely draining it was with the incredible gift everything was. Trying to control barakel tweoeight girls from drastically different home lives and standards was grueling. I eventually wrote my mom a letter, thanking her for cutting my food for me, and raising me to be able to fall down without having a tantrum. My favorite week was High School Week, which is the most-hyped event of the summer. I want to be a high school teacher, so God really used that week to confirm my passion to pour into high school kids and affirm my ability to work well with and connect with them.

lhThis summer, and everything that happened, would not have been possible without two things. First and foremost, the Lord, with His divinely-given strength, patience, and enthusiasm. Secondly is the people I was blessed to know. It started out hard, but I’ve made so many lifelong friends. As a counselor, you have to rely on your co-workers so much, for sanity, laughter, and encouragement, as well as adult conversation. I made so many memories with this group of people, whose hearts were primarily focused on serving the Lord, whether that meant teaching archery, lifeguarding, cooking, or counseling. I honestly can’t put into words how much they mean to me, how much fun we had, and how much I already miss them. Being a camp counselor was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I learned how to build a fire, cook a meal over it, sleep under the stars, shoot a bow and arrow, shoot a gun, canoe, scream with no voice, get eight girls to bed on time, clean an entire cabin with no power, deal with mice (sometimes), but most importantly, I learned how much passion I have for God and the word of His testimony. Camp Barakel was a fun, Christ-centered, beautiful, encouraging, loving place, where truly God has blessed.