If you would like to send your offering through the mail, our mailing address is:
CrossPointe Community Church
P O Box 126
Chippewa Lake, OH 44215
God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.John 1:6-14
One day as He saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around Him, and He began to teach them.
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are My followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”Matthew 5:1-16
What makes Christianity different from all the other religions of the world?
Years ago that very question was discussed at a conference. Some of the participants argued that Christianity is unique in teaching that God became man.
But someone objected, saying that other religions teach similar doctrines.
“What about the resurrection?” No, it was argued, other faiths believe that the dead will rise again.
C. S. Lewis, a strong defender of Christianity, came in late, sat down, and asked, “What’s all the rumpus?”
When he learned that it was a debate about the uniqueness of Christianity, he immediately commented, “Oh, that’s easy; one word; grace.” 1
Bully for you Clive Staples . . . how right he was! The very heart of the gospel is the sublime truth that God accepts us with no conditions whatsoever when we put our trust in the atoning sacrifice of His Son. Although we are helplessly sinful, God, in grace, forgives us completely.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (1:7).
Even better, to his friend Titus, Paul affirms:
When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of His grace He made us right in His sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.Titus 3:4-7
No wonder there are so many wonderful songs about grace. Last week we closed with “Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace, grace God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin.” And today we opened with, “Amazing grace how the sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”
Yes, it does our hearts good to be reminded that God has showered again and again with His “marvelous, matchless, infinite grace.”
Today, being Gather to Scatter Sunday, is an appropriate day to remind us that grace received is also to be dispensed to a world that desperately needs it.
I don’t think I need to remind you of Jesus’ last words as recorded by all four gospel writers to go into all the world with the purpose of sharing the love of God in Christ.
Today I would take another tack by reminding us that we, as Christ followers, are to be like Jesus who according to John was full of “grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Dr. Joseph Stowell, past President of Moody Bible Institute did some serious exegetical work on this Greek phrase translated, “grace and truth.” And he discovered that the word truth here is not referring to objective truth, but rather is modifying the word grace. He posits that what John was actually saying was Jesus was full of grace and that’s the truth, or you better believe it, or you can count on it. In other words, John was saying, “I watched Jesus for three solid years and the thing that really struck me about Him is that He was full of grace all the time, He was the real deal when it came to acting in grace, you can count on the fact that He was always full of grace! 2
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on John 1:14 agrees that Christ was full of “favor, kindness, and mercy to men; teaching the way to the kingdom of God, with all the simplicity, plainness, dignity, and energy of truth.” 3
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible supports this understanding, stating: “The word ‘grace’ means ‘favors,’ gifts, acts of beneficence. He was kind, merciful, gracious, doing good to all, and seeking man’s welfare by great sacrifices and love; so much so, that it might be said to be characteristic of him, or he ‘abounded’ in favors to mankind.” 4
The writers of the New Testament all agree that those descriptions of Jesus as being full of grace are also to describe you and I as individual Christians and the church collectively.
Paul writes the Romans: “For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son” (8:29).
In his first letter, Peter simply declares: “Christ is your example, and you must follow in His steps” (I Peter 2:21).
And John, in his first letter to the church, writes: “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (I John 2:6).
That is our redemptive purpose! To be full of grace as much as we are able, both as individuals and as the church. For the mission of our leader, Jesus, which is also our mission, was primarily a mission of sharing grace; that is, abundant kindness!
By the way, Jesus was always focused on His mission of grace; keyword: mission.
Mission implies taking action. A mission of grace implies taking action to share it. I am so grateful that these Gather to Scatter Sundays give us an opportunity to be in, and fulfill, our mission. Mission, mission, mission!
It’s my calling to remind us of our mission because it’s so easy for the church to fall into what some would call ‘maintenance mode.’ Maintenance mode is when a church sits back and relaxes and adopts a philosophy of, the world needs help, but what can I do about it?
And I think that’s what has happened in many, many churches as a result of the pandemic. I am not here to judge any church for the decisions they made during the pandemic that had an adverse effect on their mission and ministry. After all, we all faced unprecedented circumstances.
And over the last two years, we have adapted and done the best we could to keep our mission alive and well. I was reminded of that Friday as I watched our crew carhop 55 meals.
But we must always be wary of falling back into maintenance mode. Churches in mission mode are on the lookout for opportunities to share grace.
Did you know there were two boats that responded to the Titanic when it was sinking? One boat, the Californian, was about 20 miles away. They had nonchalantly turned off their radio 10 minutes before the Titanic hit the iceberg. They saw rockets and flares being shot off in the distance by some ship. But they just assumed they were having a good time. And they didn’t think to turn on their radio to see why. They even saw the Titanic’s lights begin to turn off but assumed they were just turning their lights off for the night. We might say that crew of the Californian was in maintenance mode! And for the rest of their lives, the crew members of the Californian had to wrestle with why they didn’t go.
On the other hand, there was another ship, the Carpathia, 58 miles away. Their radioman was on duty when it got the call that the Titanic was sinking. It ran full-speed ahead for 3.5 hours and saved 705 lives from the lifeboats. The Carpathia was in mission mode. 5
At CrossPointe Community Church let it be said of us that we chose to emulate, not the Californian, but the Carpathia!
Of course, it’s not always easy to be in mission mode and share God’s grace with others.
It will almost always cost us something. It will cost some of us our pride when our skewed sense of justice in desiring to see people pay some price for their mistakes kicks in. It may cost us some of our money. It may cost some of us a few aches and pains. It may cost us some of our time.
But Jesus challenges us:
If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? (Matthew 16:24-26).
Missionary Karen Watson counted the cost of following Jesus. That’s why she left a letter with her pastor before going to Iraq to share God’s grace. She went to provide humanitarian relief in the name of Jesus, but she was gunned down in the country she came to serve. The letter she left behind began, “You’re only reading this if I died.” It included gracious words to family and friends, and this simple summary of following Christ: “To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory my reward.” 6
As we think about fulfilling our God-given purpose of “Sharing God’s Grace with Others” her motto could be our motto: “To obey was our objective, to suffer was expected, His glory our reward.”
Or, if you’d rather, our motto could be, Bahala na!
Near the end of World War II, a plane carrying 24 members of the U.S. military crashed into the New Guinea jungle during a sightseeing excursion. The survivors, suffering from gangrene and hunger, were stranded deep in a jungle valley notorious for its cannibalistic tribes.
The army tapped a special battalion of 66 jump-qualified members of “1st Recon” led by Earl Walter Jr. This battalion’s daring motto was Bahala na!, a phrase from the Philippines that can be translated as, “Come what may.” There was only one way to rescue the survivors: recruit ten volunteers, including two medics, to parachute into the dense jungle and extract the survivors.
It was a dangerous plan. Walter stood before his men as he gave the potential volunteers four warnings. First, Walter told them, the area they’d be jumping into was marked “unknown” so they’d have nothing but their wits and their compasses to guide them. Second, the jungle was so thick it would be what Walter called, “the worst possible drop zone.” Third, if they survived the jumps, their band of men would face “a very good possibility that the natives would prove hostile.”
But Walter saved the worst for last. No one had a plan, even a rough one, to get any survivors out of the valley. They might have to hike some 150 miles to either the north or south coast of New Guinea, through some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth, with crash survivors who might be unable to walk on their own. Death seemed a strong possibility either way.
When Walter finished his litany of warnings, he waited a beat, then asked for volunteers. All 66 members of the parachute unit stepped forward as together they began to yell Bahala na, Bahala na. “Come what may.” 7
Now obviously, we are not facing any kind of life-threatening situation when it comes to our calling to follow Jesus into the world to make known His grace in word and deed. But let that story motivate you and me to know that we are doing the right thing, come what may, as we seek to follow the example of our commander in chief. We are doing the right thing by fulfilling our calling to share God’s grace with a world that is in desperate need to be graced with the love of God. So let’s get after it . . . Bahala na, Bahala na.
1 Source unknown
5 Adapted from William Hull, Strategic Preaching: The Role of the Pulpit in Pastoral Leadership, [St Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, © 2006), Pages 209-213;
6 Missionary Slain in Iraq Mourned, Los Angeles Times (3-17-04);
submitted by Bill White, Paramount, California spring 2020
7 Adapted from Mitchell Zuckoff, Lost in Shangri-La, [New York: Harper Perennial, © 2012), Pages. 213-216