Value #1: Grace

by Erin Bird

As I was considering what to write this week, I realized its been a while since I’ve talked about Riverwood’s three values. So I’d like to take the next couple of weeks here on the blog to talk with you about Grace, Truth, & Trust. Which means this week we start with value numero uno – Grace.

What is Grace?

A few years ago, I heard a story about a cop who pulled over a young man for having an expired license plate. Even though the driver knew the license plate was expired, he simply didn’t have the money to pay for the renewal. Even though he was working hard, his young family was barely making ends meet. So when it came to either paying for the license renewal or feeding his kids, he opted for food. You can’t help but feel for this guy, but the fact remained that he had broken the law and deserved to get a ticket.

Now, if I had been the cop, I would have been tempted to let the guy go. This would have been mercy. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. This guy deserved a ticket, but I might have not given it to him because of his financial situation.

But the cop in the story didn’t show mercy. He didn’t let the young man off with a warning. Instead, he handed him a ticket. But wrapped up inside the ticket was a $100 bill to pay the fine.

That’s grace.

You see, while mercy is not getting what you DO deserve, grace is getting what you DO NOT deserve.

The Greek word for “grace” is the word charis (pronounced “Karis” – now you know where my oldest daughter got her name!). But charis also means “gift.” And that’s what the anonymous cop in the story did. He upheld the law, but at the same time, he dispensed grace to the driver by giving the means to not only pay the fine and renew his license, but renew his wife’s registration as well.

The Power of Grace

value grace2 350x196 - Value #1: GraceIn the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John), we read about Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus. Jesus had been arrested in the middle of the night and dragged off for a “trial.” Peter followed a safe distance behind so he could figure out what was going to happen to Jesus. But a couple of people recognized Peter and asked him, “Aren’t you one of His disciples?” Afraid he too would be arrested and possibly killed for his association with Jesus, Peter emphatically said no. He denied being a Jesus-follower.

So when Jesus is resurrected from the dead, you can understand why Peter would go back to his previous career in fishing. He had failed as a disciple. He had told Jesus he wouldn’t deny being a Jesus-follower, and yet he did. So he went back to the one thing he was good at.

But Jesus wasn’t done with Peter.

In John 21, we see Jesus confront Peter. Peter deserved at least a lecture for his denial, maybe even more. Yet Jesus didn’t give him any of that. He forgave him! He showed Peter mercy.

But Jesus didn’t stop there. He then gave Peter responsibility to move Jesus’ mission forward. Jesus gave him something he didn’t deserve. He gave him responsibility and leadership. He gave him grace.

And we see Peter respond to this grace when he preaches in Acts 2. A throng of people listen to Peter tell about Jesus, and 3000 people made a decision to follow Jesus.

You see, Peter didn’t take the grace that Jesus gave him and take advantage of it. The grace of Jesus launched Peter into something beautiful. Peter didn’t leave the conversation in John 21 thinking he had just gotten away with something. He was humbled by the grace Jesus gave him, and Peter allowed that grace to launch him into something powerful.

That’s why at Riverwood we talk about “leading with grace.” We want to give to people the same kind of grace that Jesus has given us. We believe that when someone truly experiences grace, it will launch them into something beautiful, and rather than just be takers and consumers in life, they too will become grace-dispensers.

And so, if you have seen the depravity of your own sin and realized God has not only shown you mercy by forgiving you of your sins, but also gives you grace by inviting you to follow Him, then give others grace, trusting that God can use that grace to launch them into something beautiful.

Let’s lead with grace. Let’s be grace-dispensers!

Trust Issues

If you’ve been around Riverwood for more than 2.4 nanoseconds, you have probably heard me talk about being Jesus-centered. What I desire is for YOU to live a Jesus-centered life and help us create a Jesus-centered community.

To create this Jesus-centered community, we focus on three values – Grace, Truth, and Trust. Over the next three weeks, I want to explore these three values. But I’m going to do them out of order. This week, I am going to talk about “trust.”

Trust and Entrust

At Riverwood, we want to see people trust Jesus. Trust Him with their lives. Trust Him with their futures. Trust Him in their difficulties. Trust Him through all things.

But the idea of being a Jesus-centered community of trust goes further than that. We also want to entrust one another.

Here’s what I mean:

Imagine you have an area of ministry at Riverwood that you LOVE. Maybe it’s greeting. It might be planning events. Perhaps it is teaching kids about Jesus. Or it may be leading a Growth Group.

Now, let’s say that you not only serve in that area, but you are so good at it, you practically become an expert. Everyone compliments your service. They turn to you to find out how you do it so well. Other churches want to learn from you. In fact, you are so good at your area of ministry that people are begging you to write a book so they can learn how to be as good as you.

Many experts love being recognized as experts. They hoard their knowledge so that everyone has to come to them for the answers. They hold tightly to their area of ministry so that the spotlight has to remain on them.

But that’s not how we want to operate at Riverwood.

Shifting the Spotlight

At Riverwood, we want to be a community of trust. We want to entrust others to do the ministry. So if you become an “expert”, then we want you to pass on your wisdom to others, seeking to make them experts as well.

And if you AREN’T an expert – you STILL entrust your ministry to others.

You see, to be a Jesus-centered community, we can’t keep the spotlight for ourselves. We have to put the spotlight on Jesus. And one way to do that is to trust that He can use us to help someone else serve him.

That’s why this Sunday, I am gladly giving up my microphone to Mike Howard. Mike is planting a church in Des Moines. I want you to hear from young fresh voices who are seeking to be Jesus-centered and willing to give up everything to help others find and follow Jesus.

If I wanted the spotlight for myself, then I wouldn’t let Mike teach this Sunday. But because I want the spotlight on Jesus, I am gladly giving the mic to Mike, so that you might be inspired and touched by voices other than my own.

I pray that this becomes a regular part of Riverwood. Not just on the stage, but in every area. I hope we have a culture of reproduction, where we each are looking to not only find areas to give our FIST (finances, influence, skills, and time), but looking for ways to help others give their FIST as well.

So jump in. Serve. Make Riverwood an amazing church family. And part of being a family means serving with others. It’s always more fun to do ministry as a team and an honor to know God used you to help someone else find a place to serve the Kingdom.