Men’s Ministry

Mondays at 7:00 pm
Study 2 Peter
Led by Pastor Raley in the Sanctuary at CGB.

Tuesdays at 6:30 am
Study 2 Peter
Led by Pastor Raley at Country Waffle on Notre Dame in Chico.

Fridays at 6:30 am
Men’s Fellowship Breakfast
Led by David Calkins
at Cozy Diner in Chico.

 

 

Thank you for thinking about me and my brothers

Care, love, and compassion

The day was great

Music and singers

Godsend

It’s hard this time of year

But people care and want me to succeed

Running up and down the halls

First good Christmas in 3 or 4 years

I will use everything

And for myself the moment was priceless

Grown men act like little children laughing, smiling

Asking one another, what did you get?

And saying, look what I got

Like I said: priceless

Christmas Eve

Come home from church

And know that someone was thinking of us

I know God smiles on you

Beanies and gloves

Now I will have a fresh shave

I am going to stay warm on these cold days

Warm and loved by friends that I have just met

 

My hands were freezing

People are out there that care about us

New socks and Bible crossword

You make me feel loved

Prayers and the wonderful gift bag

I have been praying for some gloves

Love and compassion

I am wearing the gloves as we speak

I was also glad to receive nail clippers

I have a bad habit biting my nails

My feet get cold

Gloves and beanies

And the socks were awesome

Like somehow you read my mind

I haven’t received anything for Christmas in years

I really needed socks

My feet were cold

And you provided me with warm socks

I’ve been on the streets for a long time with nothing

But how did you know?

Me and my brothers, we feel truly blessed

Some of us didn’t get gifts from our families

Someone cares

I really needed some socks bad

I had holes in my socks

I got some really nice ones and for that I am thankful

 

img_20161022_091820792Last Saturday, some of the men of the church got together for a great work day. We planted new Chinese Pistache trees in between the old and ailing parking lot trees. Lord willing, as we tend to these trees they will grow tall and replace the old ones as sources of shade for the parking lot.

The work day was a wonderful time of watching men of all generations interact, laugh, and even work together. We owe a great debt of thanks to Bob Gillette for his wisdom and guidance in planting the trees, and to Bob, Craig Kearney, and Robert Myers for digging the holes the day before with a mini-excavator. Trees are a lot of fun to plant when someone else digs the holes.

This Saturdashovely, October 22, we will plant Chinese Pistache trees in the west parking lot. The deacons have been concerned about the trees in that lot for some time. They are old and are rotting. We have already had the most potentially dangerous of those trees removed from the fence-line we share with Jim’s Towing.

Now we have the opportunity to prepare for the removal of the remainder of the trees by planting new ones and giving them the chance to grow and become a source of shade before we remove the old ones and retire them to someone’s fire place.

Planting trees is both practical and symbolic.

On the practical side, planting new trees in our parking lot means strong, healthy sources of shade for the next thirty years, Lord willing. It means a fresher, more vibrant feel as people drive in to park. Just look at the trees around the front lawn. Strong, full trees add beauty.

On the symbolic side, planting trees speaks of new beginnings. When you plant a tree you are committing all of its virtues to the future. It won’t reach its full potential for several years. You may not be around then to experience the benefits, but others will be.

It’s a lot like what we do for God’s kingdom. God uses us to plant seeds in each other—seeds of grace, hope, love, patience—that grow to become sources of shade and fruit for others. God also uses us to plant the seeds of salvation, seeds that may take years to mature into faith. And the beauty of that faith is a testimony to many, even though we may not see it ourselves.

So grab a shovel and dig in with us this Saturday. The work day starts at 9 am.

 

Grace House sharpened

This month we celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the opening of the Grace House. For those who are unfamiliar with this ministry, here’s a little history.

Pastor Raley and I began discussing the concept in 2012. At that time I was a staff member at the Chico Rescue Mission (then The Well). We discussed the need for affordable and accountable housing for men who have successfully graduated from a rehab program, men who need to make the final step to independent living. I fit this description and so did others who were at The Well.

In the summer of 2014, the duplex on the church grounds became available. Another round of discussions and meetings began, and Grace House was born. Brad Smith, Rick Nichols, and I moved in on October 1st, 2014. During the first few months we established roles within the church. Rick  used his considerable construction and maintenance skills to take care of long-needed projects and repairs; Brad Smith became an important part of the administrative work; and I assumed a “caretaker” role. We all participated in the janitorial needs and our home’s yard needs. We attended classes at the Growing Place and several Bible studies each week.

Brad, Rick, and I were instantly welcomed into the arms of the congregation. Although we had been attending Grace Brethren for years, a deeper relationship with our Savior began developing. I quickly felt more connected to God and the good people of this church. Folks knew my name and were genuinely happy to include me in their spiritual walk. For the first time in decades I felt at home.

The last 2 years have sped by. We have a new member, Jacob Maier, who quickly found needs and filled them. He has recently gained employment and is growing. We all continue to grow.

One of the wonderful aspects of life at the Grace House is inclusion. Ten years ago I was awaiting release from Folsom prison. Today I have been released from far more than walls and bars. In Hebrews 12:11, God promises the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” to those who endure His chastening. I now sleep well at night and for those whose past is as dark as night, that is a stunning blessing. I am a member of the worship team (the drummer), and am house manager of the Grace House. I recently became a deacon. I am included in decisions and my input feels valuable. To the congregation, and the incredible staff of Grace Brethren Church: a heartfelt thank you for including me in your walk. May God bless you all!

 

Art by Laurie Mathers used by permission

Art by Laurie Mathers used by permission

I have a wife and a toddler. I grew up in the church and never stopped attending. But it has taken me years to stop feeling like a sham.

There was a time when I couldn’t relate either to the sinner I knew I shouldn’t be or to the follower of Christ I knew I should be. I sang songs, but didn’t worship. I listened to sermons, but only heard the clichés I’d been trying to sustain myself with since high school.

I got sick of churches trying to extend my adolescence. When I wanted to learn how to be a godly husband and father, I was sent to a program and treated like a statistic. I was supposed to relate to an actor portraying an abusive husband for a DVD Bible Study. But I wasn’t an abusive husband. I was lonely. I wanted to understand my wife and child. I needed help, not another list of bullet points.

Then I came here. The moment I felt encouraged and strengthened in the Lord was when a godly older man took the time to have coffee with me, listen to me, and speak directly to what I was going through. Not only did I start ministering to my family, I wanted to reach out to other men too. And when I did, I discovered they were a lot like me.

I believe that the church is God’s institution, not ours. I’ve given up on programs, but I have not given up on people. I’ve given up trying to understand the problems “men today” are facing, but I will always try to understand the problems of the man next to me.

This is my church.

 

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