Happy Birthday Woodside Plymouth

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.” (Ephesians 1:16–18, ESV)

A year ago today my family was loaded up (including Sparkle our rabbit) into our minivan with Joe and Grace Peper chasing us from behind in my old "Merc" leaving the relative comforts of my in-laws and venturing into the unknown of Plymouth, Michigan. A year ago last Sunday the membership of two churches, Woodside Bible Church and Plymouth Baptist both voted to become one church and to launch a new campus of Woodside Bible. What an amazing year it has been.

Lately, as I have read Ephesians I have felt a sense of unity with Paul in how he thinks of the church; with gratitude. I am so thankful for each of you at Woodside. But Paul also couples his gratitude of the church to the Lord with a request for the church. He prays that the Father would open the eyes of the hearts of the church to see and know the hope to which they have been called. Effectively, he prays that the church would have a clear vision of how incredibly great, in Christ, our future will be.

So how do we have any clue about how great the future will be for us? That’s what Paul tells us he is praying for in the first part of this passage. That the Father would give us a view of his glory, the Son’s authority, and the Spirit’s wisdom and that beyond just knowing these attributes about God we would really know, or maybe better said experience, who he is for us. Paul wants us today to know how great our tomorrow will be by the reality of knowing the kindness and love and grace that God has for us.

You may have heard me, here or there, say something to the effect of “in Christ our best days are in front of us.” That is absolutely true because of what Jesus has accomplished for us. He endured a lifetime looking forward to his future death so that we might, in this lifetime look forward to future life with him. And because of what he has purchased for us, all the best days lie in front of us, even if they are difficult day, because of the hope we have in Christ.

So I am praying that whatever the Sovereign Lord holds in his hand for each of us, and Woodside Bible Church, this next year that we would know and experience the hope to which he has called us. I want our eyes to be open to see God at work and his grace and mercy moving powerfully among us and through us to the world. Our future is incredibly bright!

Sunday Gathered Worship!

This Sunday will mark for us the one-year anniversary (or birthday) of Woodside Bible Church’s Plymouth Campus! So we will sing, and give thanks, and worship God as we usually do. Here’s what we will be singing, which you can listen to this weekend via Spotify.

  • Mighty Warrior
  • Grace So Glorious
  • Lamb of God
  • It is Well With My Soul
  • Jesus, Thank You

Our Senior Pastor, Doug Schmidt will also be preaching this Sunday as we look forward to a new year.

Ice Fest Activities

This weekend is also the annual Plymouth Ice Festival in downtown Plymouth. Tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday we will be making our parking lot available as well as a free shuttle into downtown to serve and bless anyone who is attending the festival. We’d love to have you serve with us on Friday evening or Saturday as we want to be as hospitable and welcoming to anyone who comes. Please let me know if you can serve for a few hours on Friday or Saturday.

Also — be sure to come out on Saturday at 4pm as we host the “Ice Fest Movie Night” for everyone. We’ll be showing the movie Frozen and there will be plenty of popcorn and hot chocolate. Even if you don’t have children, come and join us for the sake of shared life together! It’s going to be a lot of fun to just gather together and have a great time! Of course invite your friends, neighbors, family members, grandkids, coworkers, worst enemies, whoever else out to join us. We’re going to have a great time and this is an easy way, low-key way to introduce someone to Woodside. Perhaps we will be able to experience more of the hope to which we are called as we share life and the goodness of God together.

I am thankful and praying for you this week! Because of Christ our best days are ahead.

In Christ,


Dear Woodside… Forgive As You Have Been Forgiven

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32, ESV)

Many of you this week have responded back to me about how the text from Sunday’s message, Matthew 18:21-35, has had you thinking about forgiveness and what it really means, and what it most deeply looks like. I will readily admit that it has been a passage that God has used lately to humble, challenge, and change me as well. As I have reflected on Jesus’ story I want to be the kind of person that reflects the love of God in the way I love, and specifically forgive those who have wronged me.

I mentioned on Sunday seven ways that the seventeenth century Puritan pastor, Thomas Watson talked about “gospel-forgiving” and wanted to bring those to your mind again to help solidify what that looks like. Watson writes in his work The Lord’s Prayer that we forgive others…

“When we strive against all thoughts of revenge; when we will not do our enemies mischief, but wish well to them, grieve at their calamities, pray for them, seek reconciliation with them, and show ourselves ready on all occasions to relieve them. This is gospel-forgiving.”

To break it down Watson says:

  1. We strive against all thoughts of revenge - we are out to get back at the people who have wronged us.
  2. We will not do our enemies mischief - we won’t wrong or harm them.
  3. We wish our enemies well - we desire that they are strong, prosperous, healthy.
  4. We grieve at their calamities - it breaks our heart to see them hurt
  5. We pray for them
  6. We seek reconciliation with them - we want to “be at peace with all men.”
  7. We show ourselves ready on all occasions to relieve them - we desire to do good to them and bless them.

This is how Christ has forgiven us. He didn’t seek revenge but cried out “Father forgiven them!” and then laid down his life for his enemies. Furthermore, Watson asks “How must we forgive?” and then lays out three simple ways:

  1. Forgive sincerely, from the heart. No pretense or show. As God has sincerely forgiven us.
  2. Forgive fully. Keeping no record of wrongs but completely forgiving the other person as God has fully forgiven us all our sins.
  3. Forgive often. We often sin against God, we are called to often forgive our neighbor.

I know God has been “taking me to school” on forgiveness lately, and I know for many of you the same is true. I am praying that the Lord will work within us deeply to be a people of true “gospel-forgiveness” and display to this world what real grace looks like as God has forgiven us.

Gathering Sunday

I’ve been really thankful for this series on relationships, and hope that it has been an impacting series for you as well. This Sunday we are in Philippians 4:11-13 looking at how our lack of contentment in Christ can really damage our relationships with one another. Our songs of worship are listed in this week’s Spotify Playlist so you can be more familiar with them. We are singing:

  • My Lighthouse
  • Christ Is Enough
  • Came To My Rescue
  • How Great Thou Art
  • Jesus, Thank You

I hope you’ll be with us on Sunday morning at 9:30 and 11am.

Giving Thanks

Also, this Sunday evening we are gathering with our Farmington Hills and Dearborn campus at 6pm for worship and giving thanks together. We will gather at our Farmington Hills campus, 28301 Middlebelt Rd, Farmington Hills, MI 48334 for a time of worship, hearing how God has been working among our campuses, fun and celebration together. I hope you will join us on Sunday night.

Also, on Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve we will have a family gathering together at our campus at 7pm. The Thanksgiving Eve gathering is one my favorite times to celebrate as a church God’s goodness and kindness. We’ll sing, read Scripture, hear from one another and have pie together on Wednesday night. You won’t want to miss this time together!

I hope you have a great rest of the week. As usual, if there is any way we can pray for and serve you please let us know! May the Lord bless and keep you and produce within you a heart of “gospel-forgiveness” as you see the grace and forgiveness of Christ.

In Him,


Dear Woodside... Hope In God

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10, ESV)

This afternoon I’m sitting in my office with a bit of a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I am firmly confident that we would prefer to tackle the issue of suffering within the laboratory of a Sunday morning worship service on a more theoretical playing field. You know what I am talking about; it’s easier to talk about suffering rather than to experience it. And yet, as we’ve seen over the last few weeks from our series in 1 Peter, trials are a tool that God uses to purify our faith and make us more like Christ. The theoretical will become practical for us at some point. This week it seems that suffering and trial been more practical for some at our campus than theoretical. As I’ve heard about job loss, death, cancer and sickness this week at our campus you can understand the lump in my throat and tears.

Yet, over the last month this concluding statement in Peter’s letter has deeply resonated with my heart regarding you for a few reasons. For one I’ve experienced, in part, the truth of this verse in my own life, particularly in the last year. But more so because the hope and future that is promised here is powerfully compelling. The joy and stability that are offered here are magnificently beautiful. Consider what Peter tells us about God’s grace in the midst of our sufferings.

First, Peter declares that he is the “God of all grace.” Every joy, good, mercy, and hope that we long for comes from God. Even in the midst of trials and sufferings God’s grace and lovingkindness is coming for us in those afflictions. As Isaiah spoke of Christ he described him as one who would not break a bruised reed nor extinguish a candle wick that has just a smoldering, smoking fire to it (Isaiah 42:3). He is the God of all grace who will not break and destroy his suffering children.

This is why the second half of the verse is so important. Because we feel the pain of suffering, of loss, and of affliction we stand on shaky feet. Some of us are doing well just trying to keep upright due to the affliction we are experiencing. Yet Peter points us to the restorative hope we have in Christ. The God of all grace is the one who HIMSELF will “restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” This is what we desperately need in our afflictions.

I know that some in our body this last week have felt the opposite of “restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established.” Because of what’s happened the feeling is more like “lost, denied, weak, and insecure.” I get those feelings. Yet the reality of this verse is that God is the one who bring restoration to what we’ve lost through our sufferings. He is the one who will confirm the calling and identify he’s given us. He will use our weaknesses to show his strengthen and in turn strengthen us for all glory. He is the one who will displace our insecurity and forever give us a name that cannot be taken from us. He will firmly establish us with him forever!

I want to encourage you today to take this verse to heart. Memorize it. Meditate on it often. Let the truth of it sink deeply down into your heart so that when the suffering and afflictions come you’ve got some hope to stand on. God’s grace is coming for you! Bank your hope on the God of all grace and allow him to show up for you in his kindness. Our best days are ahead in Christ.

Be Praying:

With that, I’d like to ask you be praying specifically for a couple at our campus who are walking through a deep valley of trial right now. 
Kelly Havrilla — Today I received a call from Kelly’s husband David that her last cancer scans revealed two new growths in her body that have to be treated. Kelly and David are praying about and pursuing options towards treatment but would deeply covet your prayers for wisdom and complete healing. Furthermore, they have asked that you pray that God would give them grace to be able to make decisions in a manner that displays the gospel of Christ. Would you please seek God’s face for grace to heal Kelly! 

This Sunday:

Sunday we will begin a new series in the Word together entitled U & I. We’ve all seen relationships of various kinds break down and crumble due to a variety of different problems. Recently our campus pastors got together and identified six things we felt were the top relationship destroyers. Over the next six weeks we hope to tackle them and show how the gospel gives us hope to repair and rebuild our relationships. This series isn’t just about marriage or dating or singleness. It encompasses every kind of human relationship we could have.

Here’s what we will be singing on Sunday morning:

  • Your Love Never Fails
  • Came To My Rescue
  • Place of Freedom
  • Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
  • The Heart of Worship

We’ve placed a playlist on Spotify so you can listen beforehand as well.

I am praying that God continues to show you deep grace and upholds you deeply in the midst of trials and afflictions. I am so thankful, extremely thankful for this church and for your partnership with us in the gospel. It’s a privilege to serve you. Our best days are ahead in Christ! Trust him!

In Christ,

Dear Woodside... Look To Christ

Dear Woodside… 

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:17–18, ESV)

Lets be honest with one another — we need to change. Both you and I have many things within our lives, our behaviors, our hearts, our minds, and our attitudes that need change. Today on Oct 1, 2015 we are not fully mature, fully perfect, fully Christ-like people. Each of us wrestles with doubt, discouragement, anxiety, grief, greed, lust, jealousy, pride and a thousand other various shortcomings and sins. We need to change. 

So how will we do it? Some may suggest that we grab hold of the doctrine of “sola-bootstrapa” and exercise a copious amount of discipline and willpower to overcome the sin that so easily entangles us. If we just try harder, figure out the right strategy, engage in the right discipline or have the right accountability partner that change will happen in our behavior and our hearts. Admittedly, to some degree we can change our behavior by picking up and developing new habits. But can we really change our hearts? 

Last night our Missional Communities asked this question, “How do we change?” and then looked at Paul’s clear answer in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. The answer that the Bible gives is that change comes from the Holy Spirit as we put the eyes of our hearts onto Christ. Paul states that by “beholding the glory of the Lord” we are changed into Christ’s image. 

I want to encourage you to make this the regular means for spiritual growth and maturity in your life! Look to Christ. Try and get clear views of the goodness and magnificent beauty of Christ. As we saw in 1 Peter 2:9 this last Sunday we have a mission to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” To be able to proclaim those excellencies, we must see Christ as excellent. We must see his glory.

I want to encourage you to put your eyes on Christ this week. Through the Scriptures, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the amazing grace of Jesus, his power, mercy, authority, joy, and glory. That is where we will find the deepest and greatest power to change and be transformed from one degree of glory to another. It’s by looking to Christ that we will find that we become like Christ!

This Sunday at Woodside

As we gather to worship this Sunday we will be signing some great songs about Christ’s glory and power. Here’s the song list that you can listen to on Spotify:

  • Found in You
  • Christ Is Enough
  • Presence
  • Your Glory
  • This I Believe 

Dr. Bruce Ware, professor of theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will be preaching this Sunday out of the book of Isaiah. I know it will be a powerful and helpful word for us as a church. 

Reaching Plymouth

One other thing I’d like to encourage you to be apart of is the “Trunk or Treat” event coming up on Oct 24. We’re very excited about serving, blessing, and loving our community. This is going to be a great way to invite and bless the neighborhood with fun games, candy, costumes, food, and other festivities. We could really use your help. You can do this by signing up to have your car available as one of the “treat” sites, hosting a game, bringing candy, and so many other things. We want “all hands on deck” to engage and love one another and our neighbors. Click here to sign up and serve on Oct 24!

We will have a large container for packaged candy in the lobby on Sunday over the next few weeks as well so you can bring in candy all month leading up to the event. 

I hope to be able to write these little letters to you each week to encourage you and connect with you more at the church. I am excited for what God is doing in our midst and how he is moving among us to help people belong to Christ, grow in Christ, and reach the world for Christ. Please don’t hesitate to let me know how I can be praying for and encouraging you! See you Sunday!

In Christ,

Everything That's On My Mind (Almost) - Pastoral Wisdom

Just over a month ago our family moved to Michigan and began working with Woodside Bible Church to launch the tenth and newest campus in the city of Plymouth. It’s been a great season for us so far and we’ve seen the deepest works of God’s grace. Yesterday was our “All Staff” meeting where all the staff from the ten Woodside campuses gather together to hear vision, build up one another, and see how God is at work all over Woodside. Yesterday’s meeting also included our Senior Pastor, Doug Schmidt interviewing the pastor that he followed, David Anderson. One of the things that I value most is learning from older men in ministry. As David spoke he fired off tweet-like counsel and reflections that were a deep benefit for me. Here’s a few of the nuggests of his counsel that I gleaned yesterday:

  • Time is your friend, lead well by building consensus. 
  • Pray more - you will never regret spending more time in prayer.
  • Train individuals - don’t just leave your disciple-making to the pulpit.
  • Be prepared - start working in the word now!
  • You can sheer a sheep many times, but you can only skin a sheep once.
  • Be careful and wise as a pastor.
  • You have a ministry, not a job. Job’s are 8-5, ministry is 24/7
  • Build trust wherever you can. People need to know they can open their heart to you.
  • Invest in people, don’t use them. They are not stepping stones to build your little kingdom.
  • Love your family well.
  • Go on vacation.
  • Do the next obvious thing for the glory of God.

I love these thoughts and am grateful for opportunities to learn from faithful and fruitful pastors who have run the race well. May that be true of me as well.