7 Years

Today, June 8th, marks the 7th anniversary of Grace Fellowship, and has it ever been an adventure.  I spent a little time reflecting on the past, and am still humbled by the incredible things God has done in and through GFC in 7 short years.   What God has done here is a miracle!   There are many things to celebrate from our past, but as the poster in our hallway states:  “When your memories exceed your dreams, the end is near.”  We have a ton of great memories, but TONS of dreams yet to fulfill.

Therefore, I want to take a few moments in this blog to talk about some things I think are important if we’re to realize the dreams and vision God has for us in the future.

We must keep the main thing “the main thing”.  For me, that’s doing everything possible to help people in our communities, and around the world, understand what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and encourage them to take the faith step necessary to become a true follower of Christ.  As churches grow the tendancy is to drift toward an inward focus; we have to remember “it’s not about me”.  While we are in the process of developing fully devoted followers of Christ we must remain focused on reaching people who are not yet followers of Christ.  Spiritual maturity is being like Jesus, and Jesus stated His purpose clearly in Luke 19:10  “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”    And one of the most sobering verses in the Bible for me is Mark 9:48 (NCV) which states:  “In hell the worm does not die; the fire is never put out.”   Eternal destinies are at stake so let’s keep the main thing the main thing.

We must continue to build a healthy staff – who can build healthy leaders – who can help us build a healthy church.   If we are going to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength – we must be healthy in every one of these areas, and a healthy church starts with healthy leaders.  This means we have to view staff with a new mindset and realize the tremendous stress that’s put upon pastors and their families.   I want GFC to be the best place anyone ever works, and I want the children of Pastors/Staff members to grow up loving Jesus and loving His Church- not hating it because of what it demanded of their parent.

Grace was started and has continued with FAITH.  We must continue to pray BIG – ask BIG – believe BIG – expand BIG – and risk BIG for the Kingdom.   Remember – God’s vision is always bigger than our vision, so let’s tap into His vision.   I hope we never get comfortable, and that we are always learning and changing as needed to meet the needs of the various cultures we have the opportunity to touch.

I’m asking God for a financial miracle to pay our entire debt off this year so we’ll be able to invest more in planting churches & satellites, doing worldwide missions and partnering with other ministries around the world to reach more people for Christ and to meet the needs of those who are poor, hurting and abused.  In light of this, I also want us to be the most generous church anywhere and for our church family to learn & develop the joy of giving & generosity.

I’m praying we’ll be wise in using technology to start multiple satellite churches in rural settings and that our staff will be able to mentor and pour into the lives of the leaders of these churches (all over the world).   I’m continuing to ask God to do something through us that’s never been done before in a rural setting.

We can do nothing apart from Christ and must maintain a posture that can be blessed; that posture includes humility, obedience, faith and a vibrant connection with Christ daily.  We don’t produce fruit – He does.  Therefore we must continue to encourage people to maintain a healthy connection wtih Jesus every day.  As Jesus said in John 15:5 – “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.”

I pray that we will continue to be a fellowship of grace.  That God will give us people no one else wants  – that we’ll have the same kind of ministry Jesus had to the masses (which included a broad spectrum of people from skeptics to saints).  I pray we’ll continue to be the most friendly and welcoming church on the planet and that people will feel welcomed and loved regardless of their past or present situation and that they’ll realize the truth of Rom. 3:22  which states: “We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.”

I pray that we’ll be true to scripture and will judge what we do by the Word of God.   I pray that we’ll maintain the kind of unity Jesus prayed for in John 17 so that we will be more effective at making Him known.  I hope & pray we’ll continually strive to apply and live out our three foundational passages:  The Great Commandment (Mt. 22:37-40), The Great Commission (Mt. 28:19-20) and the Great Condition (John 10:10) so that we can truly love God, love people & love life.

I want to be a better husband, father, & son.   I want to become a much more effective leader, pastor & preacher.  I want to continue to grow and be used of God in powerful ways.  I want to set an example for my family – for our staff team – and for our church family that inspires them to become everything God desires them to be.  I want to impact the world in my generation and for generations to come.   Therefore, I want to continue to stretch, learn and be exposed to new ideas and way of serving God.  

Jeremiah 9:23-24 is a favorite:   23 Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, “declares the LORD.      At the end of it all – I want to make my boast in the Lord — and want the Grace Fellowship Family to do the same !

About bjrutledge

BJ & Janet were married in July 1977 They have three grown children who are all married: Jeremy & Whitney Rutledge, Chris & Julie Hurst, and Josh and Hannah Rutledge. They also have four grandsons, and a granddaughter. BJ says perhaps our greatest legacy is even though our kids are PK's, they love Jesus and are all involved in ministry in the local church. BJ has served at churches in Dallas - Bossier City, LA - Houston - and was at Fellowship of the Woodlands (Woodlands Church) in The Woodlands before coming to Grace Fellowship. BJ is the Lead Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Paradise, TX.
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