Friday, July 16, 2010

Mattersey Hall Leadership Lectures

This year in June I was privileged to lecture at Mattersey Hall College in northern England. It was a thrill to be able to take our Student Ministries Pastor, Ricky Spindler who is like a son to me, and share in the ministry and fun! Paul and Carol Alexander along with Glenn Belfour and all the team are doing a great job there.

Many of you requested our teaching notes and we finally got around to posting them. I hope you can print them off and reuse them in your portion of building the Kingdom of God.

Love and prayers,

Gary Grogan aka Papa G

P.S: It was a thrill to watch England and USA tie in the World Cup with our Mattersey friends. LOL



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Urbana School of Ministry

We would like to let you know about an exciting training opportunity for young adults in your congregation who are preparing for full-time ministry. This fall, we are kicking off the Urbana School of Ministry which is fully accredited with the School of Urban Missions in Oakland, California. Students can earn a full Bible College degree at a fraction of the cost.

USM is located in the middle of a richly diverse community, hosting individuals from 121 nations of the world. It is a center of academic excellence that is committed to creativity and innovation. Students may find themselves handing out groceries to a single mom in our food pantry, sharing a meal with a Muslim couple, speaking words of hope to a runaway teen, or introducing a future CEO to Jesus.

At USM they will receive a quality classroom education and practical ministry experience in a vibrant church.
For years, our leadership has envisioned a school and church partnership where students could learn in the classroom and through hands-on ministry. They will gain not simply head knowledge, but skills they can implement and utilize immediately.

Students will then participate in one of the many dynamic ministries of Stone Creek Church in which they can observe/learn and actively participate. Each student will be mentored by church leadership, learning how to passionately follow Christ and live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

If you have any young adults who would be interested in attending USM, please contact our cohort director, Adam Sikorski at

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dying to Self

I used this at our District Discipleship Camps in the past and I know it will be a blessing to you. Wise words for all of us to live by and experience His Highest blessing in our lives. Love you. Papa G

When you are forgotten, or neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don't sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but you heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient loving silence, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, and impunctuality, or any annoyance; when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensitivity...and endure it as Jesus endured it, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When you are content with any food, any offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any solitude, and any interruption by the will of God, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.

Are you dead yet? In these last days the Spirit would bring us to the Cross. "That I may know HIM...being made conformable to His death."

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I am a bad—sorry it has been so long since my last blog. Some of you who actually read my blogs asked me to keep writing, so here goes.

Recently I had surgery on my tongue to remove a fibrous growth and the pain and slowness of recovery has reminded me again of the importance of being grateful. I think we all complain to much and this I know about complaining: it's a killjoy. It makes you & everybody around you unhappy. The big problem with complaining is that is a hard habit to break.

I think our basic human nature is naturally negative so we tend to look at the bad things in life instead of the good. Also, it seems to me we are conditioned by our society. Bad news makes the headlines--we are literally bombarded with all that is wrong with everything--it tends to develop in us the habit of complaining.

But we should be different. Here’s what the Apostle Paul said, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Philippians 2:14-15

Jesus help us! This tells me we are supposed to live our lives and do our ministries without complaining! Sometimes we ‘whine’ and says things like it’s just not fair, people don’t really appreciate me, I don’t deserve this, I shouldn’t have to put up with this or how come the other guy gets all the breaks?

The truth is, life is unfair and so is ministry but as long as we complain it only makes us more miserable! This I know, complaining does not work. I have tried it with my wife, Bonnie! She will just say, ‘O shut up!’ She has a way with words!

Seriously, complaining brought judgment to Israel and it does the same to us today. We miss out on God’s best. If the Scripture says we are to “do everything without complaining…”then perhaps here are some things that may help:

● We have to admit we are guilty. “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.” Prov. 28:13 LB

If our speech was recorded for a week, what would it reveal about our words? Let’s not spend time griping, grumping, complaining, arguing and saying things like “life/ministry stinks.”

● We have stop blaming others. Life and ministry is what we make it—plain and simple. Of course there are trials and people are unreasonable but we are free to make choices, however, we are never free from the consequences of our choices. They may not be immediate but they will be eventual. [Selah]

● We have to realize God uses difficult times to grow us--if we handle them right. Here goes Paul again, “This small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. So we fix our attention, not on the things that are seen, but on the things that are unseen. What is seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.” 2 Cor. 4:17-18 GN

-Paul is saying that the good we will get out of our problems will be much more long lasting than the problem. For me, I have noticed the things I complain about the most are often the very things God knows I need the most in order to become all He wants me to be. It is a warning light of God. He is saying, “There is something wrong here. Stop complaining and start changing!”

At a Discipleship Camp years ago one of speakers shared the following on the results of complaining?

1. It absolutely poisons the air.
2. Deflates morale. People start feeling uncomfortable with each other.
3. Hinders vision. Cuts off what God is trying to do.
4. Shows a lack of trust/faith.
5. Keep you from God’s best--The Promise Land.

Pretty good stuff! One more from Paul--Philippians 2:14-15 needs to be the complainers Rhema Word! “Do everything without complaining or arguing…” then there are 3 results:
1. “…so that you may become blameless…” -- nobody can find fault with you! Nobody can point a finger at you.
2. “…and pure…” -- Greek word means ‘having integrity.’ Non-complainers are people of integrity. You cannot trust a complainer—they do not tell the full story—facts are they lie.
3. “…children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in
which you shine like stars in the universe.” – you become positive in a negative world! A positive person shine likes a star on a dark night—there are plenty of critical, put-down type people in this ole world—we are to be different.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:18 NIV

“…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Phil. 4:11 NIV

Being happy and joyful in spite of circumstance is called maturity. I love my spiritual sons and daughters and hope this helps you have a better day. Papa G

Monday, July 27, 2009

Doing Things Together is What Makes Life & Ministry Work!

It was my joy and privilege to ride 58 miles this morning in our annual Missions Bike Hike with some heroic friends! We have been doing this the past eight years adding a mile each year for my b’day. You have to be smart enough to figure out how old I am.  But don’t rub it in or then you’d be dumb! 

This year we raised $10,000 US for TC Moore who ministers in a youth mentoring program in Boston, MA. He is an incredible young man with a great personal testimony of the Lord rescuing him from gangs and drugs. If you would like a copy of his printed personal testimony email and request it.

The bike hike today reminded me how much fun it is to do life and ministry together. However, over the years I have noticed that some pastors/ministers seem to withdraw from fellowship especially as they grow older or perhaps more successful. This is such a tragedy and hurts their leadership effectiveness. Here are some thoughts on doing life and ministry together:
1. Michael Jordan won ‘zero’ NBA championships but his team won six. You may be a super-pastor or minister but you won’t win the big ones unless you do life & ministry together with others.
2. The Lone Ranger was an old make-believe black and white TV show that was actually pretty cheesy. You are making yourself look bad by avoiding fellowship and doing life and ministry without others. Not just talking about those in your church group but working with other pastors and churches!
3. Life and ministry gets hard but when you do it with others the encouragement they give you keeps you going.
4. Withdrawal from ministerial fellowship is proof that insecurity has not been nailed to the cross.
5. Withdrawal from ministerial fellowship is proof that pride has not been nailed to the cross. This is big.
6. Withdrawal from ministerial fellowship is proof that a root of bitterness is springing up and causing trouble.

Repentance is the key to restored fellowship with others not just God. As pastors we are always in the ‘teacher’s seat’—we need to humble ourselves and sit in the ‘learners seat.’ That’s what fellowship and working together does—it humbles us.
If life and ministry haven’t been working for you as good as they should—it’s time to make a greater effort to be in fellowship. It makes both lots more fun! Selah

Monday, June 8, 2009

Observations from my “Motherland” Ministry Trip

Just finished an awesome time of ministry in England (the motherland!) with my friends Paul Alexander and Ken Williamson. With Paul I did a whole week of lectures at the college where he serves as Principal at Mattersey Hall and with Ken an elders meeting and morning and evening services.

Here are some ministry observations:
1. Ministering to college students is incredibly rewarding-- I have this deep sensing of shaping future ministries and lives. They are not as stuck in the rut of life and are so eager to learn. Investing in others no matter the sacrifice is what makes ministry satisfying.
2. I absolutely love it when young people show a hunger for the things of God by asking questions. Ricky Spindler and Wayne Northup are some of the best I have seen at asking questions. It is the position of a continual learner. I need to be a continual learner and ask lots of questions.
3. It was fun speaking on the Holy Spirit baptism on Pentecost Sunday a week ago. I did so in a creative way at Langold in Northern England and a few folks were Holy Spirit baptized. Being hosted by a young sharp student, Marcus from Mattersey, was a great way to start my time there. I cannot leave the message of the Holy Spirit baptism out and being a good host helps others do a better job.
4. Traveling from Northern England to London with Shawn on a train going 125 miles an hour and being on the Internet was a wonder of technology! Going that fast and doing Skype with my son-in-law and granddaughter was a cool moment in time. Being willing to learn new techy things will help me.
5. Having a global plan on my cell phone so I can do calls & texts and receive both has really been handy and helpful. Thanks Ed Burnson! Communication is what makes life, family, everything work right!
6. The similarities between Bethel Church in East London and Stone Creek in Urbana, IL USA are amazing. I love what God is doing around the world. Being with my friend Ken Williamson is always fun and crazy! Proof that the effort it takes to have good friendship is worth it. To have friends, we have to show ourselves friendly by making the time to get together, communicating, and taking initiative.
7. I look forward to the High Holiday where we celebrate our Independence from the Motherland! j/k (Ken Williamson says “why” when I can have pork pie!)

Love you and believe in you, Papa G.