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An early Christmas gift!

We were going to make an announcement in January, but we couldn't wait.  Our blog is going to resume!!  Please enjoy this early gift from us to you - a blog from our sweet Myra Balok about a very special Christmas Eve.  May you have the Merriest Christmas, as you celebrate the amazing birth of our King and our Savior, the most perfect gift of all.

Much love to each of you and be sure to look for more details on our blog in January.


Mugzy and the Laugh That Saved Christmas 

I don’t remember much about my Dad’s hunting days, but I do remember Mugzy.  Mugzy was big, adorable, clumsy, loud and my Dad’s hunting dog.  In my memory he looked like a cross between a beagle and a Bassett hound—close to the ground and to five kids’ hearts. 

I don’t know how well he did out in the fields, but I do remember how he loved to “hunt” our big, gray cat Tom.  We were nearly ready to head out for Christmas Eve service.  My dad had sent my two brothers out to feed Mugzy for the night while my Mom, my sisters and I lovingly added the finishing touches to the tree.  The excitement was palpable. 

I am not sure of the logic here, but at that time, my Dad used a large galvanized tub instead of a Christmas tree stand for the tree.  He placed large rocks and coal (he ran out of rocks?) in the tub to keep the tree up.  Straight.  You’ll see why I remember this so vividly in a moment. 

For whatever reason (they were boys?), Mugzy got off his chain, spotted the open back door (they were boys) and a big, gray cat sniffing the cold air.  That was all Mugzy needed.  He took off for Tom who responded in typical cat behavior and headed for the nearest tree to climb. 

I bet you know where I am going with this, right? 

Tom went up the tree with Mugzy close behind. 

Picture the scene:  My Dad is yelling at my brothers.  My mom is yelling at the cat. The girls are just yelling!  The tree came down tipping the tub on the way.  Seven people scrambled around trying to snag either a dog, a cat, or a flying ornament. 

Mugzy was finally caught and returned to his “house”; my dad picked up the tangled mess of a tree and roughly stuck it back into the righted tub; my mother soaked up black water from the floor with anything she could grab; and the rest of us cowered against the nearest wall fearing the worse:  there ain’t no way Santa is coming here tonight!  We didn’t see the cat for days. 

Suddenly, my Dad announced, “Get into the car.  Now.”  We all obeyed.  We were smart kids.  It was a very quiet ride to the church. 

We filed in:  my two brothers first, my two sisters, me, my mom, and, finally, my Dad.  We almost filled a pew!  The service began. 

I don’t remember at what point this blessed moment came, but my Mom gave me a gentle left elbow nudge and a nod to her right:  it was a Christmas miracle.  My Dad was laughing.  Really laughing, just quietly.  Well, the elbow nudge and nod went right down the line until six grateful heads were turned to the right.  There was such a relieved collective sigh that night that we almost blew the altar candles out!  We shared smiles and Christmas greetings as we left the church. 

At home, we kids dug in and re-trimmed the tree (sort of) while my Mom brought out the hot chocolate and her famous “refrigerator” cookies.  Jesus came that night, and Santa did, too.  Neither of them ever missed the Griffith household.  I don’t know what became of our beloved Mugzy although I do remember that my Dad allowed him to live that night.   

Joy comes in many forms and often when we least expect it.  My prayer for you is that whatever tangled mess you might be experiencing this Christmas, allow God to replace it with the joy that is Jesus. 


Be Merry. 


God is good.   

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.





2016 Fall Groups!

Are you looking to join a women's group this fall?  It's not too late to jump in!  Check out the information below.  Donuts may or may not be included ;)  Happy Fall everyone!

Sign up here.  If you have addtional questions, contact the main church office at 724-458-8497.





Heart to Heart Women's Retreat is almost here - September 11 & 12!  

Don't miss this wonderful time, featuring guest teacher, Kelley Latta.  

Deadline for registration is Tuesday, September 1.  To register online click here.



Grove City Alliance Church Heart To Heart Women's Ministry is thrilled to welcome guest teacher Kelley Latta (www.kelleylattaministries.com) to McKeever Environmental Center for the "Transformation" Fall Retreat! Kelley is passionate about teaching believers how to approach Christ through His Word so they can live transformed. Join us for a weekend of heart to heart connection, authentic communication and tons of fun as we learn from and love one another well!  The retreat check-in begins at 5PM, September 11, with the retreat welcome beginning at 7PM.  


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Generational Freedom

I began a study, recently, called “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore.  Today’s study, in particular, resounded as if a gong was hit inside of my head. 

Jotham (father of Ahaz) reigned in Jerusalem prior to Ahaz.  Although Jotham did many things right in the eyes of the Lord, he chose to disobey God by simply not destroying the high places where idolatry ran rampant.  

Leaving those high places established gave Ahaz (Jotham’s son) easy access to the bondage of idolatry.  But it did not stop there; Ahaz took those sins to greater depths as he began actually casting idols and even sacrificed his own child.

When we choose to break bondage and live in victory, we also lay a paved road leading to victory for our children. If we choose to learn from countless stories of people who have fallen into generational patterns of sin and destruction (usually the bondage becoming deeper with each passing generation) we can change the trajectory of our family legacy.

Generational bondage does not have to be our legacy.  Jesus can break the bondage!  We can live in victory and point the next generation to Jesus.  He offers the gift of freedom to all of us who have answered His call on our lives.  FREEDOM!   If we choose to destroy the high places in our lives, the next generation benefits greatly!  

Romans 6:16
Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

If you find yourself in bondage, begin sincerely praying for God to break that sin pattern.  Ask Him to put people in your life that can help you remove that boulder in your path, so that you can continue on your journey of faith without chains and bondage.  He’ll do it!  Ask Him!


If you are near the Grove City area - please consider joining us at Grove City Alliance Church this week for the Deeper Life in Christ Conference.  For directions to the church click here.


What is Mercy, Anyway?

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28

Mercy. What exactly is it? A word we throw around along with the word grace (we will look at that one too!) Words with big meaning and impact, that should not just be thrown around without thought.

"Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is extending kindness to the unworthy." (quote from gotquestions.org) 

Mercy means I am so deeply grateful for the forgiveness I have received that I cannot help offering you the same. (Paul David Tripp - New Morning a Mercies)

When I stop and really think about this, the picture that comes to mind is how often I judge others. A wrong word, actions taken against me (whether true or imagined), rights I believe I have, entitlement, and the list goes on. 

In my head, I hate to admit, there are many times I elevate myself. Thinking that, somehow, I am a little higher than you. It is subtle. It just kind of sneaks in there, without a big boastful declaration, but it is there all the same. I know better than you.  I am entitled to be treated a certain way. It’s what we think when someone wrongs us, or disagrees with us, or says something we don’t like.

And anytime we put ourselves in that place, we also have made ourselves the judge (which of course is where the word judgement comes from and I'm pretty sure that's God's job, not mine). 

I can't believe she did that! I would never do that. Did you hear what she said? How could she treat me that way? What is wrong with them!

All things I have either thought or said. Perceived or true - all putting myself in a superior place, in a position to judge another as wrong, and me as right.

This is where mercy comes in. This is where you stop and look at Luke 6 and say, am I extending the same mercy to this person as I have been given through Christ?  Do I judge this person, or do I stop and realize they need my mercy in this situation as much as I need mercy from Christ?

Imagine if we looked at others - especially those brothers and sisters in Christ who we hold to a higher standard than the 'world', and we extended mercy to them. How different would the body of Christ look if we actually treated others as he treats us? 

What would that look like if you did?

In verses 32 & 33, Jesus goes on to say: “And if you love those who love you, what kind of credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good to those who do good to you, what kind of credit is that to you? Even the sinners do the same!

It does take us past the point of our comfort zone, doesn't it? For that person who says that thing to you that is mean and hurtful, can you stop judging and extend mercy then? 

I remember hearing a sermon that explained the difference between judgement, forgiveness, mercy and grace. It was about a man whose daughter was murdered. As he sat in court during the trial, the man who was on trial was convicted of murder. In his heart, the man had already forgiven the murderer (and that is no easy thing). As the sentencing time came, he spoke on behalf of the man who had murdered his daughter, saying he had forgiven him and asked the judge to allow this man, life and not a death sentence. That is mercy. Over the years the man went to visit the murderer, prayed for him and eventually became his friend. That is grace. 

It reminds me of the life of Elizabeth Elliot, who lived, became friends, and eventually loved, the very people who murdered her husband, Jim. Forgiveness. Mercy. Grace.  

It is what Christ did.  It is what we are called to do.

I know this is not an easy thing, but with a heart submitted to the Holy Spirit, He can and will guide us through! But it takes is a heart willing to allow Him. A heart that doesn't want to hold onto our own 'rights'.  A heart that wants to love like His. A heart that realizes the extremely generous gift it has been given through Christ. 

Today, ask Him to stop and show you when you have stepped into the position of judge towards another. Today, begin by asking him who you need to forgive. 

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

Surrender your situation to Him. He will do the rest.