Grace Kids Summer Schedule

30 05 2008

(by: bms)

Fellow Parents,

We recently announced the new summer schedule for Grace Kids. That schedule begins Sunday, June 1st. I hope there hasn’t been any confusion, but inevitably when there is a change there is some confusion. This post should provide some clarification for all you parents.

We will not have our regular Grace Kids classes for the summer months (June-August). We are fully aware that without Grace Kids it will be difficult for parents of children to attend our weekly 9am corporate prayer meeting. Our solution is threefold:

(#1) To open two classrooms at church for parents to watch their children during that hour,

(#2) To allow parents to bring all their children into the prayer meeting, or

(#3) Parents are welcome to keep their children at home during that hour.

Solution #1 = Allows both parents, or a single parent, to bring their child(ren) to Grace Church, especially if they are traveling from a longer distance and want to avoid bringing two vehicles at separate times. However, only one parent would be able to attend the prayer meeting while the other parent watched their children in one of two assigned classrooms. The two classrooms will be labeled (cafe and fishbowl). The cafe is where the 6-10 year old class normally meets and the fishbowl is where 1-2 year old class normally meets. We will first occupy the cafe to watch the children. If the cafe begins to fill then we will open the fishbowl for more room to watch children. Other volunteers will be available to help watch the children of any single parents who may wish to attend the prayer meeting.

Solution #2 = If you feel your children are mature enough to attend the prayer meeting, and would not be a too disruptive, we would prefer they attend the meeting with you. All of our children already attend the corporate prayer meeting on the last Sunday of each month with the intent of teaching them the “how” and importance of corporate prayer. As they listen to adults pray, we soon hope that the children will learn to pray God-honoring prayers with us.

Solution #3 = Since only one parent can attend the prayer meeting for couples who have to watch their children during the prayer hour, we also would suggest that parents are welcome to keep their children home during the prayer hour. This obviously would apply to couples who live closer in proximity to the church and would be able to come in separate vehicles. one parent could attend the meeting while the other stayed home to watch children.

Here are a couple of example of what Sunday mornings might look like:

  • For a two-parent family with four children (ages 10, 7, 3, 1): Suppose the two older children are mature enough to sit in and even participate in the prayer meeting. One parent could attend the prayer meeting with the 10 and 7 year old children, while the other parent stayed at home to keep the 3 and 1 year old children or watches the younger children in one of the assigned classrooms at Grace Church during the corporate prayer hour.
  • For a single parent with two children (ages 8, 2): If the oldest is able to attend the prayer meeting we would encourage them to do so, and Grace would offer a volunteer to help watch the two year old in one of the assigned classrooms. However, just as married parents would be unable to attend every prayer meeting because they are responsible to watch their children on a rotating basis between father and mother, we would kindly ask that single parents choose to watch their children every other week to allow volunteers the opportunity to be in the corporate meetings as well.

If any questions remain, ask pastor Bryan or Brandy on Sunday.

That Jesus may be exalted!


The Uttermost Parts

30 05 2008

I was wrong. I told our church that Grace’s pastors recently visited one of the most remote places on earth (We had to travel nearly 1/2 a day on motorbike through Nigerian ‘bush’ to get there). However, this place & its people are far more remote than where we traveled!

I wonder what it will cost to take the gospel to these precious souls? And I wonder who will go?


Together For Adoption

30 05 2008

Here’s a site that might fuel your heart for adoption (and involvement in the AAF).


Worship Preparation – Mark 8:1-26

30 05 2008

(by: jt)

Are you planning to worship Jesus with Grace this Sunday? If so, we encourage you to prepare your heart. Here are some suggestions for how to do so…

  1. Prayerfully meditate through this week’s sermon text.
  2. Worshipfully consider as many of the blessed implications as you can conceive in your sanctified imagination related to Christ being, “The Bread of Life which came down out of heaven” (John 6:22, 33, 35, 48, 51).
  3. Carefully search out whether you are obeying Christ’s command to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees & of Herod“.
  4. Desperately ask the Lord for understanding of the gospel that is only provided by Him.
  5. Contemplate the status of your spiritual sight. Are you blind, blurry, or clear?
  6. Sing a few great hymns (like this one, or this one).

See you Sunday, Lord willing!

Spreading Christ… to The Next Generations

29 05 2008

(by: jt)

The mission statement of the people of Grace Church is to carry out our God-given vision by:

Guiding people to faith in Jesus Christ
Growing together in biblical maturity, and
Going with the gospel our neighbors and the nations.

As our God-given vision expands, so must the practical implementation of our mission. Not that we have to reword the summary of why we exist every time the Lord reveals a fresh application of His purposes for us, but we must be able to articulate our calling in order to live it out. Cutting to the chase… I wonder if we have corporately embraced our calling to take the gospel to the next generation with the same intentionality as we have for taking Christ to our neighbors and the nations?

Spreading Christ geographically is clearly our calling. But so is spreading Christ chronologically! The reason GraceKids exists is in the hope that the next generation might place their confidence in God; even those yet to be born!

Grace is quickly becoming famous (or infamous?) for being on the receiving end of God’s abundant ‘conceiving grace’! I’ve lost count of the number of conceptions since this time last year (pushing 15? Or more?). Shew!! Oh, by the way, we’re expecting #5! As an email from one of Grace’s covenant members recently stated concerning our newest addition, “May [every one] of these precious little ones love Christ supremely!” This is our confident prayer!

But causing couples within our church to be fertile is not God’s only strategy for adding His gifts and blessings to the life of Grace. Adoption, thankfully, is part of God’s plan for us (41 out of 41 members of Grace have testified to being adopted by God!). And earthly adoption is a beautiful picture of the gospel in God’s plan for expanding human families too.

As Grace embraces every fresh application of God’s vision for our lives, we will receive the joy as our Lord receives the glory.

In that vein, the elders are inviting you to pray with us that part of our “Summer of Spreading” will result in no less than $5,000 being given toward The Amber Adoption Fund between now and the end of the summer.

The goal of $5k is because the first $5k given by Grace will be matched by The Abba Fund and by Shahohanah’s Hope ($2,500 by each. And, please continue praying for the family as you may be aware that Shahohanah’s Hope is the adoption effort started by the Chapman’s who’s adopted daughter recently died).

Now, we do not see the faces and know the names of the children who will be adopted into the families of Grace with assistance from the Amber Adoption Fund, but God does. If we were able to see their faces and know their names, I wonder if our eagerness to contribute to the fund would be heightened? $5k is a lofty goal for a small church during one summer. I’m praying it will be exceeded.

You may contribute to the Amber Adoption Fund any time by writing “AAF” on the memo line of your check.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Nigeria Details – Part I

28 05 2008

(by: jt)

Again, thank you all for your prayers during the pastors’ recent Partnership Trip to Nigeria. In substantial ways, your prayers were answered by our Great God!

A Brief History: Vision Trip & Partnership Trip

In April 2007 a six-person team from Grace Church participated in a Vision Trip to Northern Nigeria seeking to discern ways that Grace might partner in the advance of the gospel among the Hausa peoples. During this trip the Vision Team visited with Christian leaders in Zaria, Katsina, Kano, Bauchi, Jos, and Kaduna. The primary result of this trip was confirmation from the Lord that Grace should partner with The Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) in the spread of the gospel through church planting and Christian education. In significant ways ECWA is pushing forward in taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, and in sustaining the work of the gospel where Christ is already named.

In May 2008 Grace’s three pastors returned to Nigeria in order to pursue a formal partnership with ECWA church planters who have been called to gospel ministry, identified by local churches, theologically trained, positively assessed by ECWA as gifted to pastor, and ready to begin the work of planting a new church as soon as financial support is secured. In every way the Lord kindly exceeded our expectations to establish such relationships by allowing us to see how He has been at work preparing such men long before the inception of Grace’s desire to be involved. Not only did we learn of such church planters, but we also realized that there are a host of these men of whom the world is not worthy. Currently, most of these called, trained, and gifted men are living in their parent’s home, sustenance farming, and waiting for the Lord to provide the funds for them to begin laboring among an unreached people.

With great joy Grace has committed to partner with two of these church planters, fully supporting their annual salary, and committing to visit them at least once annually to encourage them and the churches they are planting. Both of these church-planters will be moving from their current location to their respective “field” to begin their labors sometime around the first week of July, 2008. Much more information on each of these planters will be coming soon. Until then, pray for these men, their families, and also seek the Lord about joining the next Grace Team to Nigeria!

A Brief Summary of the Vision for Tomorrow:

Now that Grace is vested in the work of the gospel in Nigeria, we are joyfully committed for the long-term to the support and encouragement of the Lord’s work among the many unreached Nigerian peoples. This means at least two things for the immediate future, and there are even more implications in the days to come.

Immediate Future: Financial Support, Personal Encouragement, & Pastoral Training

  1. Grace has committed to provide the annual salaries for two Nigerian church planters. These monies will come from three places: (1) The Grace Church Global Missions Budget; (2) 50% of the Lottie Moon Christmas gifts in the month of December; and (3) any gifts designated to the “Nigeria Pastors Support” given any time through the Grace Church offering
  2. In addition to financial support, Grace has also committed to personal encouragement. This means that Grace has committed to at least one annual trip to Nigeria to work with the new churches being supported by Grace. During this trip(s), the Grace Team will assist the pastor in ministering to the people through evangelism, ministry to children, teaching adults, and encouraging the Lord’s work as He gives us opportunity. Again, please pray about joining one of these Teams.

Long-Term Vision: Even More Financial Support, Personal Encouragement, & Pastoral Training

  1. During each trip, we have requested to be able to meet with any interested pastors for several days of theological training in the nearest major city to the new churches that Grace is supporting. Thankfully, this request was met with great delight and anticipation. We were informed that most of the pastors from the city and the nearby rural areas will be eager to enjoy such training (During the recent trip there were approximately 60 pastors at our training). Therefore, every trip will likely include at least a couple of men from Grace who would be willing to prepare to teach/preach for several days on selected topics related to the essentials of the gospel. It is not necessary that the pastors lead this effort each time! So men, pray up and don’t be surprised if you are approached in the near future about investing in these men during one of our trips!! (FYI: These ECWA pastors are diligent students of the Word. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that nearly everything we covered on our most recent trip was familiar territory to almost all of the pastors that we trained. Ex: Nathan taught the relationships between a right view of God, self, sin, & salvation. Bryan taught an overview of a Christ-centered theology of the Bible, and Jordan taught the importance of Christ-centeredness in the local church as the ground for her health). It was very encouraging to realize that these “bush pastors” with no electricity, ministering to illiterate people, and farming just to feed their families, were well acquainted with the things we were laying before them! Even so, these men were greatly encouraged to persevere and to “excel still more.”
  2. Along with training pastors, Grace’s partnership vision is to be able to support more church planters who will carry the good news of Jesus Christ to places where He has yet to be named and where no Christian church exists. In that vein, Grace hopes to increase her web of financial support to more pastors each year. Though starting with the support of two men, our prayer is that God will supply exponentially multiplying grace for us to be able to support many more pastors in the coming years! Please continue to pray about your involvement in this great Kingdom work.
  3. Finally, it stands to reason that if Grace is supporting more pastors, and we are committed to encouraging the churches that we are supporting, then more of the Grace Church family will be needed on future Teams in order to encourage the work(s) that we are supporting. In humility the pastors are asking that you consider using 6-10 days of your hard-earned vacation sometime in the next 2-3 years for the sake of investing in God’s glory among the nations. We realize it will not be easy, or cheap, but we trust that if He inclines you to go, He will see to it that provision (for family at home, and for finances to go!) will be met. We are already praying for you! If you are interested at any level, please see Pastor Nathan.

That His Name might be Great among the Nations!

Two Worshipful Responses to Yesterday’s Sermon

26 05 2008

(by: ns)

Two statements landed on me in significant ways during yesterday’s sermon from Mark 7:24-37.

Statement #1: The Lord is pleased when we are not easily deterred from seeking Him.

Quote: “O, pity for evermore that there should be such an one as Christ Jesus, so boundless, so bottomless, and so incomparable in infinite excellency, and sweetness, and so few to take Him!  O, ye poor dry and dead souls, why will ye come hither with your toom vessels and your empty souls to this huge, and fair, and deep, and sweet well of life, and fill all your toom vessels?  O, that Christ should be so large in sweetness and worth, and we so narrow, pinched, so ebb, and so void of all happiness, and yet men will not take Him!  They lose their love miserably, who will not bestow it upon this lovely One.’ Selections from Samuel Rutherford’s Letters

Response: It is so enjoyable to know that He delights in our responding to His love compelling us to Him.

Statement #2: Do I desire a lower position in order that I might be nearer to Christ?

Response: Is the glory of Christ really the foundational desire in my life?

O Praise be to Him who does all things well