GCI Update

Why Faith, Hope, And Love?

Image of open Bible, coffee mug, and a single piece of paper printed with the words, Faith, Hope, Love
Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

By now you have heard of how GCI seeks to better join Jesus in his ongoing ministry through the avenues of faith, hope and love. It is important for me to answer the question of “Why?” Why are we following this path? Why is faith, hope and love so profound for our church going forward?

In the middle of their varied disorders and factions, Paul reminds the church leaders and members at Corinth of the high value and absolute necessity of faith, hope and love. They are the greatest virtues that speak to who Jesus is and what he is about in his active ministry to humanity.

For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:12-13)

Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians is the capstone to important teaching concerning spiritual gifts and godly living (chapters 12-14). Paul articulated the diversity of gifts available to believers as the Spirit orchestrates and then the necessity of maintaining unity among themselves under the virtues of faith, hope and love. The successful use of spiritual gifts by and among believers must be undergirded by faith, hope and love.

So, is faith, hope and love an isolated topic trapped in 1 Corinthians 13? Faith, hope, and love are indeed prominent in the Scriptures. Let’s look at a few examples.

We heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints. Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you. (Colossians 1: 4-6)

In this passage, we see that hope has a vital connection with faith and love. All three work together to provide “a confident hope” for the believer which not only assures of a heavenly, eternal future, but empowers the believer to live a godly life here and now.

Here, Paul picks up with the “Big Three” as he tells the church:

We must stay sober by putting on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet our hope for salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:8-10)

For God did not create us for wrath and condemnation, but for receiving salvation and love through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us, whether we are alert or asleep, we will come to life together with him.

Faith and hope appear together at the opening of the “Hall of Fame” faith chapter in Hebrews 11. This chapter speaks to a wide range of people in a wide range of circumstances, and it shows how through Jesus the believer can live a settled life in an unsettled situation. And how living in a threatening, chaotic world there can be an active, and confident faith in God and the believer can live a life of assured hope. For all “Pilgrims” to come to this end is what Jesus and his church is working toward.

The concepts of faith, hope and love cannot be separated from who Jesus is. It is his faith that fills my unbelief; it is his hope that covers my doubts; and his love that cancels my fear. And he is this Savior of perfect faith, perfect hope, and perfect love for all people.

Faith, hope and love are the three great permanent Christian graces, as opposed to the lesser temporary gifts of prophecy, miracles and tongues spoken of in 1 Corinthians. These three “remain” and will be our continued framework for ministry in GCI.

In Jesus’ perfect faith, hope, and love,

Greg Williams

LiLY Women’s Conference

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!
18th Annual
LiLY Women’s Conference 

“Faith in Action”
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28 (NIV)


We are excited to be in person this year!

April 22-24, 2022

Embassy Suites in Beachwood, Ohio

Registration Fee:

$75 / $85 – Take advantage of our early bird pricing of $75 and register by April 1, 2022.  The registration fee covers the meeting facilities, speakers, conference bag filled with goodies, plus lunch and dinner on Saturday.

Teen Bonfire Session – Registration for ages 13-17 is at a discounted rate of $50.00. Tammy Mason Johnson will again lead our teen sessions.  Young ladies will explore the theme scripture and learn how it applies to their lives.

Register today online at gccle.church/lily

If not registering online, mail your registration fee and make checks payable to:

Grace Communion Cleveland
4499 Canterbury Road
North Olmsted, Ohio 44070

Please include your name, address, phone number, emergency contact name & address, and indicate whether or not you are staying for the Saturday night dinner.

Hotel Reservation/Cost:

Embassy Suites, 3775 Park East Drive, Beachwood, Ohio 44122

Overnight hotel rate is $124 per night, per suite, 4-person room (total with tax is about $291 for both nights – breakfast & manager’s reception included).

Registration Link: Embassy Suites Beachwood Hotel Reservations

Guests can also call 800-317-1960 or (216) 765-8066. Tell the hotel you are with the LiLY Women’s Conference (group code: “GCC”).

Deadline for hotel reservations at the special rate is April 1, 2022.


If you have any questions, please email LiLYwomensministry@gmail.com

Know that we are praying for you and look forward to how God will move this year.

Rosa Hulse
Women’s Ministry Leader
Hosted by Grace Communion Cleveland
Pastor Tamar Gray

GCI Buzz – The Hope Avenue

Graphic with a bee hive and the words, GCI Buzz healthy church: the hope avenueThis month’s GCI Buzz explains the Hope Avenue and provides some examples of how you can contextualize it to your congregation. #gcibuzz

Check out the full PDF here: https://resources.gci.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/022022-GCI-Buzz.pdf

Meade – Rakestraw Engagement

Selfie of 4 young adults
Kelly & Andrew in Orlando, FL 2017

Kelly Meade and Andrew Rakestraw wrap up 2021 with an engagement! Andrew and Kelly met in 2017 at the GCI International Celebration, where they spent every day together, talking late into the evening about their lives, theology, and everything in between. Since then, they supported each other as friends, both knowing that the connection they had was valuable. They acknowledged that this connection could be a God-filled, life giving, and loving relationship during 2021. They got engaged in the Rakestraw’s backyard December 31, 2021. A May wedding is planned.A smiling young couple

Stacey and Robert Meade and Carolyn and Jonathan Rakestraw are happy to celebrate the engagement of these two!

Devotional – Lost Sheep

Photograph of a green pasture with sheep

Luke 15:1-7

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

 

It is very easy for me to be “compelled by love” (GCI Theme for 2022) for my wife, for my two sons, and their families. In fact, it seems unnatural if I don’t feel and express love for them. It isn’t as easy to feel that same compelling love when dealing with broken people who are struggling through life.

In Luke 15:1-7, Jesus is challenged by the Pharisees and scribes because he is spending time with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus tells a story to make a point to those religious leaders. He tells them about a lost sheep and how the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go after the lost sheep. Jesus is comparing the tax collectors and sinners (all humanity) to a sheep that has wandered away from the flock. Most of us will have heard many sermons and other teachings about Jesus as the Good Shepherd who out of love leaves the ninety-nine to search for the lost sheep. I would like us to pause for a moment and consider that wandering sheep.

Having grown up on a farm/ranch in Wyoming, I have dealt with lost animals (cattle in our case). I’ve never experienced any of our cattle intentionally getting lost. In many cases, the animal wanders off looking for a fresh bite of grass. They don’t notice they have walked off to potential danger. When it was time to feed or check the health of the cattle, we would notice that one was missing. We would search for that one to make sure they were not sick, injured, or attacked by predators.

The missing sheep (tax collectors, sinners, you and me) in Jesus’ story did not intentionally get lost. The sheep simply followed the “good” grass – or curiosity at something that attracted their attention – a “shiny object” – away from the ninety-nine in the flock. As children of Adam, we wandered away to follow what appeared like good grass (remember Eve thinking the fruit looked good?), not realizing that we were opening ourselves to sin. Something sinful looked attractive and we followed it rather than looking to the Shepherd. Perhaps a “shiny object” took our attention away from God – job, spouse, latest prophetic insight, a pet theory about a biblical point, political point of view, or other aspect of life tempted us to stray. When we understand we have been reconciled through the life of Jesus, we not only will be drawn to remain with the Shepherd and the flock, but also be compelled by love to invite others to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

We are all sheep prone to wander unless we are constantly keeping our eyes on the flock and the Shepherd. We are blessed with the Great Shepherd who is compelled by love to not only be aware of those who are missing, but to make every effort to draw them/us back to himself. The Shepherd is seeking each of us in the areas of our lives that are not yet like him.

Father, we thank you for the loving Shepherd in your Son, Jesus. May Your love grow in us, so we don’t wander off to some distraction or seeking what we think is good. And may that love also grow in us so that we are compelled by Your love to reach out to those around us who have wandered away from You. We ask in the name of the Great Shepherd. Amen

Glen and Connie Weber (and grandbaby!)

By Glen A Weber
Central Region Support Member