Letter from the GMT Board

August 8, 2016

 

Dear Precious Friends and Family of Grace Ministries, TN.  As I am sure you are all aware we lost our president, Dale Dunnewold to a valiantly fought battle with pancreatic cancer on Saturday May 28, 2016.  

 There was a need to elect a new president if the ministry was to continue.  Our GMT board met on June 27, 2016 and a motion was made to elect Denise Holley as the new president of GMT.  The motion was seconded and all agreed. 

 Denise Holley has been on staff with GMT since 2008.  Her heart is to continue to do what GMT has always done, lead people to the Healer Himself and work with them as their hearts heal.  Denise would like to see the ministry grow; and, as we grow, add ministers to help with this great need in our community.

 We will continue to support Julie for a time with donations that are specifically designated for the Dunnewold family. 

 

As a board we would ask you all to please do the following:

 -       PRAY for all of us as we deeply grieve this GREAT LOSS.

-       Let us know if you would like to continue to support this ministry in the days and years to come!

-       Pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers/ministers to join GMT.

-       Pray for Denise and Neil Sharpe as they work with the current load of those in need.

-       Pray that we will follow the LORD in His plan for GMT!

-       Pray for fund raising opportunities to come our way.

Please consider donating to the ministry at www.graceministriestn.com.  You can also mail checks to PO Box 7, Mount Juliet, TN 37121.  Remember we are completely supported by you who believe in GMT.  If you mail checks please designate where you would like for the monies to be directed. The two choices at this point will be: Dunnewold Family, or GMT Support.

 

 Sincerely,

GMT Board

           

 

God is Good

I have always hated the testimonies at church, “My parents were in an accident, but they walked away from it without injury.  God is good.” Especially after my mom was killed in a traffic accident 14 years ago, I wanted to scream, “Does that mean God is not good?” 

Going all the way back to the garden, it was never God’s plan for us to judge good and evil. That was His job. We were just called to walk with Him.  But ever since Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, we’ve deemed ourselves worthy to judge even God over good and evil.  Since our wisdom is limited to this 80 year span, we make judgments that seem valid.  We can’t see outside our understanding.  So if God is doing things to make these 80 years better, then He is good. If we need something to be okay in this life, and God doesn’t provide it, then we feel abandoned.

The disciples felt abandoned.  When Jesus died, they were left in shock.  When He had talked about being King, bringing His Kingdom, they put that in their understanding.  Obviously He had come to fix their current situation.  He was going to rise up and set them free from Roman rule.  He was going to be King in Jerusalem.  He had come to their rescue.  He was good.  But now that He was dead, their hope was gone.  They went back to their jobs.  They had trusted a fake.

But He came back to life and changed all that.  He showed them what His Kingdom was all about.  Then leaving them with His Holy Spirit, they entered into an intimacy with God that had never been possible before.  Here was a Kingdom that offered complete acceptance, love, forgiveness, sonship from their Creator.  The mystery of all that Jesus had been speaking of, now revealed, Christ in you, the Hope of Glory!

These men went on to face persecution and death, but they lived life with a passion that came from an intimate connection with Father God. The Kingdom was way bigger than they had ever dreamed.  No matter how bad their circumstances became, His Kingdom was their anchor.  Jesus, not their circumstances, was life to them.

So when life is unfair, when God doesn’t answer our prayers, when we don’t get healed, when terrorists take out Christian villages in Africa, when children are sold into slavery, where is God? If our understanding is exhaustive and complete, then we can say, “God doesn’t care.” “He has abandoned us.”  “God is not good.”  But if our understanding is only a microcosm of God’s full, infinite knowledge, lets remember that His original plan was for us to take our cues from Him. He is the One with wisdom, knowledge and insight.  He is Love. God is Good.

I’m not afraid to die. That’s not a big deal to me.  But the idea of leaving my family is unbearable. So my prayer is that God would heal me from this cancer in my body, whether through His supernatural touch or by the hands of doctors.  But whatever the outcome my anchor is still that God is good and His nearness is my good.

Join the Club

I’m buying a motorcycle!  They are just so cool.  Yes, I know they’re dangerous. (My dad was an insurance agent for 42 years, so I’ve heard all the horror stories.)  No, it’s not so I can feel the freedom of the road.  No, it’s not for the thrill.  No, it’s not so I can be cool.  Well, maybe a little.  I’m buying a motorcycle so I can do that cool motorcycle wave!  Isn’t that the coolest thing.  No Harley will give me that wave driving around in my minivan.  I want to be accepted in that club.  I don’t have to talk cool, or even dress cool, all I have to do is ride around on my motorcycle and I’m in.  (Scooters don’t count do they?  I think even bikers have their standards. J)  Yes, it’s that “down-arm wave” that draws me to the motorcycle community.

Last week I was walking into our neighborhood grocery store, when I noticed a 65 year old limping white man say matter-of-factly to a 40 year old athletic black man with a USMC hat, “Semper Fi”.  The younger jarhead replied in a smokey-smooth voice, “Seeemmmppperrrr Fiiiiiii!”.  Without another word or glance, they continued on with their different lives.  So cool!  If there had been a Marine recruiter outside Comptons Foodland, I’d be heading off to boot camp now.  They didn’t know anything about each other, yet they were brothers.  They belonged to a bigger team.  It wasn’t about where they served or what their rank was, they were part of a brotherhood.

Why is belonging so important to us?  Whether it’s middle school, church cliques, job approval, or PTO, we avoid rejection and seek inclusion.  We all want to know that we are someone, that we matter, and that we are not alone.  (So make sure you “like” this note on Facebook!)  You know, the apostle Paul was in one of the biggest church cliques.  He was a Pharisee.  In Philippians 3:5-6 he “boasts” of his status as a Pharisee, a Hebrew of Hebrews, blameless under the Law.  He belonged to the elite class of Jews. Yet his status and self-righteousness became garbage to him when Jesus called his name.  He found that nothing compared to knowing and being known by his Creator.  And belonging to that family came with unconditional acceptance and righteousness as a gift!

So it’s no wonder that in Ephesians 1 Paul is so excited as he expounds on the blessings of being adopted into God’s family.  (Read it yourself and see how many blessings you can find that are ours because we belong to Him.)  Since Adam sinned in the garden, man has been seeking to meet that need to belong in every imaginable way.  But until we find that deep need met in God’s intentional love and pursuit of us to be His, we will never rest from our efforts to be a part of something bigger than us.

Motorcycle waves, the Marine brotherhood, your men’s breakfast at Panera, your Mother Of Preschoolers group are all wonderful and important connections in your life, but if they are not built on your total acceptance as a child of God, they’ll leave you needing more.

God is not Needy

There are two kinds of people in the world—those who are needy and those who are really needy. We all relate out of our neediness, some more evidently than others. Everyone that you have ever met in this world is needy. Maybe they didn’t need anything from you, but they all are needy. So it shouldn’t be surprising that when we imagine God, we imagine a God who is needy.


By needy I mean lacking. We all need love, acceptance, worth, peace. We have to get it somewhere. Even if we were raised in a peaceful family that poured out love, acceptance and worth on us, we still had to get it from them. None of us are independent. For me to be happy and fulfilled, I need you to be nice to me. I need you to encourage me. I need my kids to obey me in public. I need to have the right answer when the teacher calls on me. I need friends. I need someone to believe in me. I need you to like my facebook status. I need you to stop arguing. I need life to be fair. I need to have options. I need to be safe. I need you to respect me. I need you to notice me, when I do something great. I need you to still like me, when I screw it up. (That was just today!)


So what does God need? He needs our obedience. He needs our worship. He needs us to love Him. He needs our respect. He needs us to stop complaining. He needs us to be thankful for all He does. He needs us to be humble before Him. He needs us to stop arguing with Him. He needs us to not be angry at Him. He needs us to trust Him. He needs us to tell others about Him. He needs us to tithe to Him. He needs us to start our day talking to Him. He needs us to be light for Him. He needs us to cheer louder in worship than we do at a football game. He needs us to forgive. He needs us to be patient. He needs us to overcome sin. He needs us to read the Bible. I’m sure you can think of more.


Here’s the shocker. God doesn’t need any of that! We are familiar with “give/take” relationships, but God is into “give/give” relationships—He gives, then He gives some more. He is the great I AM. He is our creator. All things hold together in Him. He is LOVE. He doesn’t have love. He is love! He is self-sustaining, self-sufficient, independent, yet He’s not demanding.


Wait just a minute, Dale! Then why did he bring so much judgment on people. Haven’t you ever read the plagues of Exodus, or the curses and blessings of Deuteronomy, or the slaughter in Joshua and Judges? What about the judgment on Israel and Judah in the prophets? How can you say God’s not demanding?


Well, let’s take a look at the judgment of God in the Old Testament. Was He demanding? Absolutely. Was He loving? Definitely. If He is love, then why was He so judgmental? Throughout scripture two primary attributes of God are His holiness and His love. In the Old Testament, God’s holiness is regularly contrasted with man’s unholiness. There is a “Holiness Gap”. The Law was added because of our unholiness. (Gal. 3:19) Paul even says in Rom. 5:20 “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase.” The Law works as a mirror to reveal our sinfulness. It could never cleanse us of unrighteousness. (Gal. 2:21) We see Jesus bringing the full weight of the Law down upon those(the religious leaders) who claimed righteousness based on the Law. “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt. 5:27,28 (No, He’s not equating the act of adultery with lust. He’s saying, “Even lust causes you to be judged under the Law.”) No one can escape the condemnation that the Law brings!


So we had this huge problem. We could not rest in God’s love, because His holiness cannot mingle with our unholiness. Whenever we see God’s judgment in the Old Testament, it is pointing out God’s holiness and our unholiness. We needed more than forgiveness; we needed to be transformed. Hebrews 10 tells us that the sacrifice system could not make us perfect(holy) because it couldn’t remove the consciousness of sin. God’s Law was not established out of His neediness, but out of His holiness.


But Jesus was a different sacrifice. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” If now you are the righteousness of God in Christ, what does that do to the “Holiness Gap”? It’s gone! That’s why Paul says that we are seated with Him in the heavenlies. (Eph. 2:6) We can approach the throne of grace with confidence! (Heb 4:16)


With the “Holiness Gap” removed, we are free to experience all of God’s love. Every interaction with us is out of His perfect love. God initiated a way to resolve the “Holiness Gap”. It was His idea, not because He needs us, but because He desired to pour out His love on us with no restriction. In that, He is glorified. The maple trees in Tennessee have been in their glory this beautiful fall season. A runner is in his glory as he sets a new record. An arist is in her glory as her work is unveiled. Our God is in His glory as His lavish love is poured out unrestricted.


Being the infinite, self-sufficient God that He is, He has no needs. Being love, He will go to whatever measures are necessary to remove every obstacle that hinders His objects of love from experiencing “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” (Eph 3:18,19)