Blog Posts
Maintaining the Unity
Maintaining the Unity

Scott Ashby • October 27, 2020

An acquaintance of mine who is well-versed in church history and culture recently made a statement on social media that 20 years from now, there will Ph.D. dissertations written on this moment. We are experiencing a watershed when it comes to the question of how churches should relate to government. 

It's not the first time that Christians have had to grapple with that question to be sure. And believers have experienced the consequences of their choices to stand against government or to go along with the cultural flow. This is, however, a unique challenge because we're not being asked to deny the faith or dispose of our relationship with Jesus. We're being asked to comply with limitations in an attempt to protect the public health. Some will willingly set aside all public expressions of faith in order to comply with the regulations or to avoid catching the virus. Others will claim that religious liberty trumps all government mandates related to church practice. 

The Bible teaches principles to help us navigate these issues. We are to "be subject to the governing authorities" for they "have been instituted by God" (Rom. 13:1). As exiles in this world, a place that is not our final home, we are to "seek the welfare of the city" where we find ourselves. That would include public health. We are, after all, pro-life. This subjection, however, must be balanced by our obedience to God. When there is a conflict between the commands of government and the commands of God, "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

 

Christians will disagree on how best to apply these principles to the ever-changing guidelines and regulations imposed by governments in different jurisdictions. The result could very well be a split in the evangelical church that is less doctrinal in nature and more political, following after different Christian leaders ("'I follow Paul' or 'I follow Apollos'", I Cor. 1:12). I hope I'm wrong about that. 

 

You and I may feel powerless to prevent such a split and perhaps we are. However, we do have a personal responsibility within our own circle of influence, our family and our local church. Ephesians 4:1-3 calls us to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called." We're having to walk a little differently these days, but we've been called to do so in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus. We're called to walk "with all humility and gentleness, with patience" (lots and lots of patience!). When it comes to relationships with our family and church family, we are to "[bear] with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." This includes bearing with those who are thinking differently about our response to the virus and government restrictions.  

 

Unity in the midst of disagreement can only be achieved through humility. We may not be able to prevent Twitter wars waged by other people elsewhere, but we can do our part to protect Graceway and our own circles of influence by humbly "maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3)

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Some Things Don't Change
Some Things Don't Change

Scott Ashby • May 28, 2020

In times of unprecedented change, it is crucial that we maintain our footing on things that do not change. As we grapple with the daily news, the influx of opinions on social media, the unknowns about the future and our proper response, I think it's important for us as believers to review our responsibilities. Our worship services have been put on hold, our weekly rhythms have been interrupted, and our planned church calendar is gathering dust. But our responsibilities remain the same, in principle, as they did before the pandemic.


The Church's Responsibilities


In writing about the "church," I am speaking of those who are involved in decision-making for the body we call Graceway Baptist Church. On a day-by-day, administrative basis, that is me as the pastor. However, I make many of those decisions in collaboration with Pastor Isaak and the deacons. Ultimately, decisions that affect the course of the church are made by the membership. Therefore, we all have a share in the responsibilities of the church. Our church motto is a helpful guide in reminding us of our responsibilities: Loving Truth, Loving Others.


Loving Truth


As we encounter the conflicting waves of information, worldviews, and conspiracies, this pandemic is an opportunity for us to value truth like never before. We don't value truth above God. (Deut. 6:5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.) However, we recognize that God is the source of all truth.  (John 14:6  I am the way, and the truth, and the life.)  Our responsibility is to point each other (and outsiders) to the God of

truth. We do so by leading each other in worship. While we cannot do so in person at this time, we are attempting to be faithful by providing streaming services on Sunday morning, and we encourage you to participate in worship in your own home and then live a life of worship throughout your week.


As we point others to the God of truth, we must also facilitate growth in the truth. We are currently doing this not only by preaching, but also by hosting our Second Hour Bible Study on Sundays, our Bible Study on Thursday evenings, and our Doctrinal Workshops. A small group of members are also working on digitizing the Foundations discipleship course, which will be a useful tool in helping people grow in their Christian walk. It is during times of pressure that we grow most in our faith and it is important that we help one another in that growth.  


Prov. 23:23 Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.


Loving Others


Love is an attribute of God (I John 4:8). Therefore, the body of Christ ought to be known as those who extend God's love to those around them. As a church, we ought to be willing to facilitate care for others. During this pandemic, that means caring for others' financial needs. It involves caring for both the physical and and spiritual aspects of man. Even as we contemplate what it means to reopen our doors (we're not there yet), we are prioritizing the health and safety of our attendees. We're also considering how to care for people in the midst of the anxiety and fear that will inevitably be present. We need to love one another even in the midst of differing opinions/approaches on COVID-19. To gather or not, to wear a mask or not, how best to serve one another, etc. 


These are the responsibilities of the church as the body of Christ. In most ways, they have not changed. But we are being asked to think about them in a different context. Let's consider how we might work together in carrying out the responsibilities of the body. Next week, I hope to address the Christian's responsibilities on a more personal level.

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2019 Year in Review
2019 Year in Review

Graceway Baptist Church • January 03, 2020

January


On January 26th, we hosted a Family Fun Night, where we entertained and encouraged one another with musical selections, speeches and activities. Fun was had by all!



Our Annual General Meeting was held on January 27th, where we planned our ministry and budget for the year ahead.


February


In February, five church members attended the Biblical Counseling Training Conference in Lafayette, Indiana. They enjoyed being equipped to better minister the Word of God to one another.



On February 23rd, the married couples of Graceway enjoyed a Couples' Banquet.


March


At the end of March, Kevin Brosnan of Baptist World Mission brought some challenging messages at our annual Missions Conference.



April


In April, an opportunity to purchase property reminded us of our dependence on the Lord. We began meeting on Sundays at 9:00am for a Morning Prayer Time to seek the Lord's face and ask for His wisdom and provision. Although God led us away from that opportunity, we continue to meet each Sunday morning to pray together in preparation for our services.  


On Good Friday, we gathered to worship and remember the cross of Christ and His great sacrifice for us. On Resurrection Sunday, the choir led us in praise as we celebrated the life we have in Christ because He rose from the dead.


May


In May, we celebrated some personal milestones as the Andres' celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. We also held a baby shower as we welcomed a new life, Brinley Dreise. 


June


June was a busy month beginning with the Downtown Milton Street Festival, where we distributed hundreds of flyers, promoted the upcoming Vacation Bible School, and talked to those who stopped by the Graceway tent.  



We also celebrated the marriage of Michelle Gill and James England with a wedding shower.


Our men's ministry was restarted in June with a Men's Breakfast. Many men also contributed to our summer Church Work Days (one in June, July and August) where we cleaned, painted, upgraded trim and replaced ceiling tiles.  


Recognizing the need for growth in leaders at Graceway, a group of men committed to a Leadership Development Process and began meeting on Sunday afternoons every 2-3 weeks. This is vital for our future and these sessions continue.


July


July was dominated by preparations for The Incredible Race Vacation Bible School. Once again, 30 volunteers had the opportunity to use the facilities of The Dance Shoppe at 725 Main St to minister the gospel to over 100 kids using drama, games, songs, snacks, lessons and crafts.



August


Our annual Church Picnic was a follow-up event to Vacation Bible School and we were blessed to have a good number of VBS families join us for burgers and hot dogs.  It was a beautiful day and some enjoyed water games, while others chatted and got to know people from the community.


September


Thanks to Leonie Raynor and others, our Jr Church program was given an overhaul in September. This was helpful in making our program more effective in ministering the gospel to our children and better utilizing our volunteers.


Pastor Mark Logan joined us for our 37th Church Anniversary where he brought us much needed reminders of the work of God in other places around the world where our Christian brothers and sisters do not enjoy the freedoms we have here.


October


October was perhaps the most momentous month at Graceway since its beginning. After serving as the founder and senior pastor for 37 years, Pastor Walt Isaak handed over the reins to Pastor Scott Ashby at his Ordination Service on October 27th. After defending his statement of faith and call to ministry before a council of visiting pastors, Pastor Scott was recommended to the congregation and was confirmed unanimously to be the Lead Pastor of Graceway.



Truth & Treat Night was held on October 31st as an alternative to Halloween activities. Kids enjoyed an evening of games, pizza, candy and a movie.


November


November was a quiet month after the busyness of the ordination, but the weekly ministries of Sunday School, Junior Church, Kids 4 Truth, Thursday Bible Study and Youth Nights continued. We are grateful for the ongoing, consistent ministries of our teachers and leaders.


December


Christmas is a busy time of year, but the Graceway Choir found time to prepare a few songs to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We then took these songs to Seasons Retirement Home where we enjoyed singing some of the songs of the season with the residents. 


On Christmas Eve, gathered to sing carols, hear preaching, and give thanks for the coming of Christ.  


On December 27 and 28, 16 men contributed to reconstruction of the platform in order to be better stewards of our space. This was a preparation project for the larger renovation phase coming in a few weeks where we will remove the office and build two new classrooms in the balcony.


Other Ongoing Ministries


While it's impossible to mention every aspect of the ministry of Graceway, we are grateful for those involved in the Women to Women Ministry (formerly Ladies' Breakfast), the monthly Doctrinal Workshops (where we are working to improve our Statement of Faith), and Teacher Training sessions (where we are equipping both new and experienced teachers to be more effective in the classrooms). We regularly pray for and support our missionaries around the world.  We continue to work, behind the scenes, through the IgniteUS process, seeking to stay focused on our mission to make disciples. Some are involved in the one-on-one ministries of counseling and the Foundations discipleship course.


May God be praised for His faithfulness in 2019! We look forward to His faithfulness in 2020.

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Community: Gospel Engagement
Community: Gospel Engagement

Graceway Baptist Church • June 07, 2019

If we are going to be healthy and growing in our spiritual lives, we are called to make full use of what some in church history have called the "ordinary means of grace." The ordinary means of grace include the Word of God, prayer and the fellowship of God's people. 


They're called ordinary in that they are not spectacular shock-and-awe signs and wonders. People today normally do not grow in their Christlikeness through some kind of Damascus Road experience of a light shining from Heaven and knocking them to the ground. Rather, we have been given fairly ordinary disciplines of reading and meditating on the Bible, communicating with God in personal prayer, and breaking bread together in regular fellowship with other believers. 


At Graceway, we value and encourage those ordinary means of grace, including that of fellowship in a local body. According to our vision statement (and God's Word), growing in the gospel requires us to be engaged with the gospel and in community with other followers of Christ. 


When we meet together regularly, we worship together corporately, celebrating what Christ has done and will do. We open ourselves up to the ministry of the Word by the leaders God has appointed over us and by the fellow believers in our local body. The Word in community feeds our soul, corrects our viewpoints, and strengthens our faith. 


In turn, our presence and participation in the corporate worship of God's people and the encouragement of God's Word contributes to the spiritual growth of our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ. It also speaks to unbelievers in our midst, of the joy and forgiveness available in Christ.


This weekend, do you plan to part of the community of God's people? Let's engage one another with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

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Loving Truth.  Loving Others.
Loving Truth. Loving Others.

Scott Ashby • March 08, 2019

One of our theme verses at Graceway is John 13:35: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.


This new “commandment” is stated as an imperative, a direct order. But in reality, it’s simply a logical response to the love of Christ for us. Christ’s summary of the law in the two greatest commands (“Love God. Love your neighbour.”) also reflects the connection between the love of God and the love of people. I John 3-4 unpacks this principle more extensively.


Over the next few weeks, I’d like us to consider the implications of the phrase that we’re considering our Passion Statement: Loving Truth. Loving Others. Four simple words. A lifetime of powerful and convicting application. Application that is only possible by God’s grace and the heart-molding work of the Holy Spirit.


The phrase, loving truth, emphasizes that we value doctrine and biblical accuracy. Truth about God is the most important category of truth in the universe. If we get it wrong, we get life wrong. We are stewards of the Truth that God has given us in inspired scripture. If we don’t love truth and the God who revealed it, we will not defend it. We will not study or proclaim it. And we will lose our way, floundering through life along with the rest of lost humanity. So, by the grace of God, we desire to cherish truth, understanding that a love for truth will always be rewarded in the end. Ecc. 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.


Loving others is a condensation of the commands to love our neighbour (Matt. 22:39) and love the brethren (I John 3:14, 16). This is very easy to say, yet so difficult to comprehend and obey. Especially, when we consider that Christ considered these characteristics to be heart motivations, not merely obedient actions out of fear of retribution. One of the greatest aids to our comprehension of these commands is to look to Christ and the model that he provided (Phil. 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.) In other words, look to Calvary for an understanding of love.


Together, the sentences indicate that love involves speaking the truth graciously to one another, even if it hurts. Note the absence of self. We speak truth out of love for others, never for our own gratification. Love requires humility.


The phrase order is important. If our love for others is not founded upon truth, we will simply be the “blind leading the blind” (Matt. 15:14). If our love for truth is not expressed out of love for others, we will be ineffective and misrepresent God’s grace. As Warren Wiersbe has put it: “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” (Eph. 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.).

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