GCI Update

Taste, see and tell

This week’s “From the President” is by GCI Vice President, Greg Williams.

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Greg and Susan Williams

I’m sure we all pray that our non-Christian loved ones—family, friends, neighbors and coworkers—will give God a chance. Each of them has a viewpoint concerning God, but is the God they envision the triune God revealed in Jesus? How can we help them come to know that God in a deeply personal way? How can we help them respond to King David’s invitation in Psalm 34:8 to “Taste and see that the Lord is good”? This is no marketing gimmick—David is referencing the profound truth that God makes himself known to anyone who searches for him. He is inviting us to a robust, life-changing encounter with God—one that engages every dimension of our human existence!

Taste that the Lord is good

Taste? Yes! Experiencing the complete goodness of God is like having delicious food or drink roll over your tongue. Think of rich dark chocolate melting slowly, or perfectly aged red wine puddling on your tongue. Or think of tasting a center cut of tender meat, seasoned with the perfect blend of salt and spice. A similar thing happens when we come to know the God revealed in Jesus. We want the delightful taste of his goodness to linger and last!

Meditating on the richness of the triune God’s nature and the complexities of his ways arouses hunger for the things of God. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matt. 5:6). When we come to know God personally, we long for righteousness—for good and right relationships—just like God does. Especially when things are bad, that desire is so intense that it hurts as if we were starving or dying of thirst. We see that intensity in Jesus’ ministry to those around him and in his anguish over those who reject God. We see it in his desire to reconcile relationships—especially our relationship with his heavenly Father. Jesus, God’s Son, came to give us that good and fulfilling right relationship with God—to share in God’s work of making all relationships right. Jesus himself is the bread of life who fills our deep hunger and hope for good and right relationships. Taste that the Lord is good!

See that the Lord is good

See? Yes! It is through our sense of sight that we behold beauty and perceive shape, distance, movement and color. Think of how frustrating it is when something we long for is blocked from sight. Think of an avid bird-watcher hearing the sound of a long-sought-for rare species, who is unable to see it. Or the frustration of trying to navigate through an unfamiliar darkened room at night. Then consider this: How can we experience the goodness of a God who is invisible and transcendent? That question reminds me of what Moses, perhaps a bit frustrated, said to God: “Show me your glory,” to which God replied: “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you” (Ex. 33:18-19).

The Hebrew word translated glory is kabod. Originally meaning weight, it came to be used to refer to the shining forth (for all to see and enjoy) of the totality of who God is—all his goodness, holiness and uncompromising faithfulness. As we behold the glory of God, all hiddenness is removed and we see that our triune God truly is good, and that his ways are always right. In the glory of his righteousness and justice, God is committed to making all things right. Our God of peace and life-giving love is opposed to all evil and has guaranteed that evil has no future. In his glory, the triune God shines forth, revealing his essence and presence—the fullness of his merciful and righteous grace. The light of God’s glory shines in our darkness and reveals the radiance of his beauty. See that the Lord is good.

An unfolding journey

Transfiguration by Bloch (public domain)

Coming to know the triune God is not like hurriedly consuming a fast-food meal or casually viewing a three-minute video clip. Coming to know the God revealed in Jesus Christ involves having the blinders stripped from our eyes, and the taste restored to our mouths. It involves being miraculously healed to see and taste God for who he truly is. Our unaided senses are far too weak and damaged to apprehend the fullness and glory of our transcendent, holy God. This healing is a life-long gift and task—a miraculous, unfolding journey of discovery. It’s like a lengthy meal that involves the explosion of tastes over multiple courses, with each surpassing the previous one. It’s like a compelling mini-series with myriad segments—you can binge-watch it without ever growing tired or bored.

Though an unfolding journey, coming to know the triune God in all his glory has a focal point—what we see and behold in the person of Jesus. As Immanuel (God with us), he is the Lord God become visible and touchable flesh. Jesus became one of us and took up residence with us. By paying attention to him as he is presented in Scripture, we discover the one who is “full of grace and truth” and we behold the “glory” of “the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14, ESV). Although “no one has ever seen God… the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18). To see God as he truly is, we need look no further than the Son!

Go and tell

Psalm 34 paints a picture of the God who is good, just, loving and personal—the God who wants his children to experience his presence and goodness, and who delivers them from evil. It tells of a God who is so real that our lives are forever transformed and our hearts, like Moses, yearn for him and his ways. This is the triune God to whom we introduce our loved ones. As followers of Jesus, we are called to share in our Lord’s ministry of evangelism—sharing the gospel (good news) that the Lord truly is a good God. For GCI resources to assist you in your ministries of evangelism, click here and here.

Tasting, seeing and telling that the Lord is good,
Greg Williams

PS: In the United States and some other countries, October is Pastor Appreciation Month. I want to extend my personal thanks to the fine men and women who give so generously of their time, talent and treasure in pastoring our congregations around the world. I also want to encourage all our congregations to show their appreciation to their pastor and to their pastor’s spouse.

PPS: The next issue of GCI Update will be published on October 24.

Takalani Musekwa

Meet Takalani Musekwa, GCI Regional Director for Southern Africa (click on the image below):

Passing the GCI presidency baton

An important event in GCI history will occur in a worship service to be held on October 14 in Charlotte, NC. In this setting of worship, we’ll be celebrating Dr. Joseph Tkach’s many years of service to our denomination, and the installation of Dr. Greg Williams as GCI’s new President (Dr. Tkach will continue as GCI Board Chairman). In the video below, Greg interviews Joseph concerning his tenure as GCI President and the preparations that have led to the passing of the GCI presidency baton to Greg. That weekend, we’ll also celebrate the retirement of a few other GCI leaders—we’ll include pictures and additional details in a special issue of GCI Update published on October 24. Thanks for your prayers concerning this event, including safe, trouble-free travel for those attending, some from overseas.

On YouTube at https://youtu.be/duxak38hoyU, and available for download at www.gci.org/media/videos/a-presidential-interview/).

New Assistant Regional Pastor

This announcement is from GCI-USA Regional Pastor Randy Bloom.

I’m happy to announce that Timothy Brassell, Lead Pastor of GCI’s Baltimore, MD, congregation, will also be serving as Assistant Regional Pastor for the GCI-USA East Region. Tim has God-given gifts and experiences that will enable him to assist me in various ways as we, through support and supervision, help the pastoral leaders in our region pursue GCI’s healthy church vision. Congratulations Tim!

Timothy and Donna Brassell

EngageGCI 2018

Chula Vista Resort and Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, WI, was home to more than 350 people attending EngageGCI 2018. With the theme, “The Great Invitation,” the event pursued faith, family and fellowship through general and breakout sessions, plus activities for all ages that included meet-and-greet, senior’s luncheon, praise café, family fun night, midnight church (for teens and young adults) and bowling. The event ended with a worship service on Sunday.

One of the highlights of EngageGCI 2018 was the opportunity to reconnect with friends and make new ones within the GCI family. As one attendee noted, “I enjoyed the company, the reunion and comradery.” To enhance the opportunity to connect, breakout sessions began immediately after morning devotions and just before general sessions. Doing so provided lots of free time for family and friends to fellowship. Here are pictures from the event (click on each to enlarge):


Resting in Jesus

In late September, 34 GCI members (pictured above) from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, gathered in Tickfaw, LA, for Resting in Jesus—a spiritual formation retreat facilitated by Dr. Larry Hinkle and Gracie Johnson of Odyssey in Christ (OIC). It was the third OIC retreat held in that part of the GCI-USA Southeast Region. Here are comments from participants:

What greater desire could any of us have but to deepen and strengthen our relationship with God? For two days I left everything behind and came with an open heart to hear from God. He spoke and I listened as his grace, love and presence became real. (Michael Horchak)

My wife and I left the Resting in Jesus spiritually rejuvenated. The way Larry and Gracie conducted it was awesome. The Spirit of God was clearly present from the outset! We know the Spirit is always in and around us, but setting up the atmosphere and tone to contact and commune with our Lord is vital and so often neglected in our personal relationship with God. I was deeply touched and plan to participate again. (Rannie Childress)

Resting in Jesus was a new idea for me, but I was soon able to see the impact it has on those who practice what the retreat taught. It does take practice to know Jesus more fully. Prayer was emphasized—its importance and impact on our lives and on those we pray for. I’m now able to pray with more depth. I’m learning to listen to Jesus in prayer, and through listening, learning the importance of obeying. Obeying then opens the door to closer relationship with our Lord, which helps us listen even more attentively as we realize how much we are loved, wanted, accepted and included. (Walt Baudoin)

Back at my home church after the retreat, I asked those who attended to share their experiences. As a group we’ve attended many retreats: Women of Faith, Promise Keepers, Walk to Emmaus and Kairos, among others. But as one of the members who attended Resting in Jesus said, this one was truly “transformational.” “Rest in Jesus” focused on rekindling our spiritual flame and it was awesome! Thank you Larry and Gracie for sharing your gift with us! (Anthony Rice)

Resting in Jesus allowed me to move away from day-to-day concerns and distractions and become energized, establishing new spiritual disciplines that are proven and effective. The retreat topics were relevant to all who attended. I drew especially on The Spirituality of Aging and The Sacrament of the Present Moment. I also appreciated one called Wasting Time with Jesus—I have found it to be a great help. (Dave Huffman)

October Equipper

Here are links to the articles in the October issue of GCI Equipper:

From Greg: Adjust Your Posture
Greg Williams urges church leaders to embrace a vital aspect of Healthy Church—having a posture that is open to receiving new, younger leaders.

Healthy Church: R.E.A.L. Teams (part 2)
This infographic continues our series looking at team-based ministry.

Worldview Conversion: Addressing Idolatry
Charles Fleming addresses a key aspect of a Christ-centered worldview.

Worldview Conversion: The Power of Liturgy
Ted Johnston explores the role of liturgy in whole-life discipleship.

What About Liturgy?
Santiago Lange looks at the value of liturgy for the church.

Revised Common Lectionary (Year C)
Here are the readings for the new worship year that begins with Advent.

Prayer Guide: October 2018
Here are GCI-related topics to pray about each day during October.

Kid’s Korner: Teaching Kids About the Christian Year
Ted Johnston gives tips on helping kids understand the Christian year.

RCL Sermons
Here are sermons for November that sync with the Scripture readings set out in the Revised Common Lectionary:
November 4, 2018
November 11, 2018
November 18, 2018
November 25, 2018

In case you missed them last month, here are the sermons for October:
October 7, 2018
October 14, 2018
October 21, 2018
October 28, 2018

Allens’ 60th

Congratulations to Melven and Ivirne Allen, members of GCI’s congregation in Big Sandy, TX. October 9 was the couple’s 60th wedding anniversary! Melven was a long-time Ambassador College (Big Sandy) employee and the couple served on staff for many years at SEP (GCI’s youth camp) in Orr, MN.

(L to R) Sonny Parsons, Ivirne and Melven Allen

The Big Sandy congregation hosted a celebration for the Allens on October 7. Over 100 family and friends attended a luncheon following the worship service. The fellowship hall was beautifully decorated, including the display of hundreds of pictures of the Allens and their family. As shown in the picture at right, Big Sandy Mayor (and retired GCI Pastor) Sonny Parsons presented the Allens with a framed proclamation from the city congratulating them and proclaiming October 9, 2018 as “Melven and Ivirne Allen Day” in Big Sandy.

Cards may be sent to:

Melven and Ivirne Allen
423 FM 2911
Big Sandy, TX 75755