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This Thing Called Grace

Steve Ranney, Pastor

 

Throughout my adult life, one of the blessings I have had was the opportunity to meet Christians in a wide variety of settings.  I have met and worshiped with people from inner cities, suburbs and rural communities around the United States, at least six communities in Mexico (most of them smaller towns), England, Kenya, Taiwan, and Canada.  I have met and had conversation with Christians from numerous other countries including people that I have just bumped into on planes and in other settings outside of the church.  In each of those cases, as we have shared our faith in Christ, there was an instant bond.  I felt connected to these brothers and sisters in a way that I do not feel with other people.

 

As I often do, I set out to figure out why that was.  I took stock of the things that all of those encounters had in common.  It wasn’t denomination, as the types denominations that I encountered spanned a large portion of the Christian spectrum.  It wasn’t theological belief, as I realized that many of the people that I encountered would have disagreed with me on what they might consider important doctrines.  It wasn’t language as there were numerous times when I needed a translator to understand or be understood.  It wasn’t class, because I have felt that bond with people who lived in squatters villages to those who lived in mansions (even by U.S.A. standards).  It wasn’t the setting of the encounter, as they ranged from cathedrals to old run down buildings, to backyards.

 

What I have come to realize through my analysis (personal though it may be) is that the one thing that unites us that call ourselves Christian is this thing that we call Grace.  The common ingredient in all those encounters was the recognition that no one on this earth is worthy of God’s love.  Each of us at sometime or another has broken our relationship with God in some way, some more dramatic that others, but, as Romans 3:23 says, we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  But the GREAT NEWS in all of this is that God chooses to love us anyway.  I don’t understand why, but that doesn’t matter.  All that I need to do to experience the Love and Grace of God is to accept it.  It is because of that reality that both I and every Christian I have met have received the Grace of God in our lives, that we can have that instant bond.  It is the reality of our need for Grace and the free gift of Grace that God gives us that allows each of us to connect with our brothers and sisters anywhere at anytime.  Grace is a remarkable thing and a wonderful gift.

 

This thing called Grace is what the Parable of the Prodigal Son is about, and for three weeks starting on September 20 (after we finish the series on forgiveness) we will look at the story from the perspective of the three characters that Jesus uses.  It is an amazing story, and I hope that you will join us for this series.  If you can not be here in person, please pick it up from our website at www.tustinpresbyterian.org.

 


 

Meet Steve Ranney

 

As we welcome our new Pastor, Steve Ranney, here is a little information to help us get to know him better:

 

  • Married to Kim Skilling who is a graduate of Princeton Seminary and is celebrating 30 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

  • Two sons and a daughter and two grandchildren.

  • B.A. in Ministry from Northwestern College in Roseville, Minnesota.

  • Master of Divinity from Denver Seminary.

  • Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from McCormick Seminary.

  • Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1991.

  • Associate Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church of Centennial, Colorado, 1991–2006.

  • Pastor/Head of Staff of St. Mark Presbyterian Church of Ballwin, Missouri, 2006–2015.

  • Steve seeks to lead both by example and by challenging people to use the gifts that God has given them for the building up of the body of Christ.  Thus, Steve's main focus is helping each person grow up in their relationship with God so that God will be able to bless others through them.

 

 

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