Nigeria Meeting

15 07 2008

(ns)

This Thursday evening we will be having a meeting for those interested in either going to Nigeria this November, or if you would like to know more information about the pastors we are supporting and areas for intercession.

Location: Nathan and April Sawyer’s house

Time: 6:30p

Psalm 96:1-4





Feel More Outrage About Your Sin Than…

21 06 2008

From John Piper:

Ask yourself an honest question: How intensely outraged are you over your belittling of God compared to the engagement of your emotion when your child is hurt, or your leg is cut off, or you lose your job, or some physical thing happens? Everything in you rises to say, “No!” How often does your heart say “No!” with the same emotional engagement at your own sin?

HT: TR





Praying for the ‘hard ones’

14 06 2008

(by: ns)

Devotionally I am in the book of Acts right now and this morning’s section was ch. 9:20-22. Acts 9 is familiar to many because it is the account of the conversion of Saul, while he was intentionally persecuting Christians. According to Ananias and those in the synagogue, Saul had quite the reputation for the suffering he was inflicting.

One of the ways the Lord prompted me to pray this morning were along the lines of praying for people who we would deem as hard people. In our minds we give them this description because of the their hardness of heart towards the gospel; lovelessness towards Christ; and overt disobedience to almost every authority placed over their life. In our minds, people such as this are ‘written off’ as ones who are without hope because they are destined for jail or a troublesome life because that is the fruit that there attitude and actions are producing now.

Consider Saul: He persecuted Christians and evoked fear in them. He had no love towards Christ but sought to remove Christ from the law. He pursued righteousness, but not the righteousness that is Christ. We would all agree that Saul would be considered a hard one.

Consider your soul: Apart from the very righteousness of Christ, how are we any different than those whom we’ve ‘written off’? A careful assessment of the scriptures concerning our soul apart from Christ would answer that we should consider ourself a hard one as well.

Now Consider Christ: Didn’t He die for the ungodly? Isn’t He capable of changing the heart of stone into flesh? Isn’t He able to save to the uttermost all who draw near to Him? Isn’t He able to shine His light into dark hearts revealing the glory of God in His face? Isn’t He the bread of life? Isn’t He the light of the world? Isn’t He the door for His sheep? Didn’t He lay down His life for His sheep? Isn’t He the good shepherd? Isn’t He the resurrection and the life? Isn’t He the way, the truth, and the life? Isn’t He the true vine? Isn’t He the great I AM?

Who are some of the ‘hard ones’ in your life? A neighborhood kid; husband; wife; rebellious child; you? Pray to the only One is able to deliver from sin and save to the uttermost those who would draw near to Him. Our sufficiency is in Christ!

Though the likelihood of you reading this post is slim; this is how I prayed for you this morning lil Tony, Richard, and Mitch. May the Lord get much glory for Himself by doing all that is necessary to satisfy you with Christ.





Spotlighting The A.M.B.E.R Adoption Fund

9 06 2008

(by: jt)

You can find a couple of encouraging spotlights here & here.

Which serves as another great opportunity for us to encourage Grace Church to seek the Lord’s leadership about making a special gift to the A.M.B.E.R Adoption Fund as part of your ‘Summer of Spreading Christ.’

Our summer giving goal for the AAF is $5,000, which will immediately be matched by two generous & God-honoring organizations (you may visit them here & here). Just think about it for a moment… $10,000 (and growing) ready to assist qualified families in the (sometimes financially burdening) joy of welcoming a precious new life into their home. If you are interested in giving toward this fund, simply mark “AAF” on the memo line of your check.

I’m especially encouraged that the A.M.B.E.R fund may be used of the Lord to foster a wider awareness among Christians that human adoption should be seen as an outgrowth of eternal adoption. Although we live in a culture where adoption is usually only considered by couples battling infertility, the Lord would be honored, and His adopting love exalted, if more Christian families would consider “growing” because of an overwhelming awareness of His adopting love for them. Siblings would be benefited, families would have multiplied joys, and most of all, eternal redemption would be mirrored for all the world to see! Because, as Amber Mathenia’s life so beautifully exemplified, Adoption Magnifies the Beauty of Eternal Redemption.





Prayer Today as the Gospel is Preached

8 06 2008

(by ns)

May the Lord be pleased to do this in hearts today as the Gospel is preached from Mark 8 at Grace; Exodus 3 at Unity BC; and in every pulpit/setting that is committed to the glory of Christ in expository exultation!

Reader! your eyes are open to such pitiable folly. You sigh over a serfdom, which is content to do a tyrant’s bidding, rather than defy a tyrant’s rage. But such may be your own case. The Gospel, like Moses, approaches men. It tells them that they grind in Satan’s prison-house. It calls them to arise from the dust, to lift up the head, to burst the fetters, to dare to be free. It shows them Jesus, the Captain of Salvation, inviting them to the banner of His cross. It assures those who this Leader never lost a battle—and never lost a man. It beseeches them to cast off the filthy fetters, and to stride boldly towards the sparkling crown.

O my soul, into what a speck must poor man dwindle before such greatness! The limits of the mind cannot scan it. The arms of the heart cannot embrace it. Words are mere skeletons before it. Intellect would desire to fly on eagle’s wing around the ever-widening circle. But vain is the effort. Its height is on heaven’s summit. What mortal arm can reach it? It is as space which has no bounds. What human line can measure it? Our mortal eyes cannot pierce unlimited expanse. Our scales cannot weigh the mountains. Our vessels cannot measure the ocean’s depths. So our faculties are too short to probe the immensities of God. To grasp divine essence requires divine largeness. ‘I AM THAT I AM’ alone can read the volume of that title.

Shall we then repine? What! repine because our God is so great? Where is the subject who frets because he cannot count his prince’s treasures? Let us rather bow our heads in pious adoration. Let us rather give thanks that a mine is open in which the very dust is gold! Let us rather humble ourselves, that we are so slow and careless to gather up the manna of rich truth which falls at the tent-door. Let us rather pray the Spirit to illumine more clearly the written page. Let us rather long for the day when every cloud which veils our God shall brighten into perfect light; and when His people ‘shall be like Him, for they shall see Him as He is.’ Come then, and with such loving teachableness let us take our seat beside this sea of truth, and strive with reverence to touch the spray which sparkles on the shore.

Henry Law





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!





Needs in Nigeria

30 04 2008

Lord willing, Bryan, Jordan, and myself will leave May 11th for ministry in Nigeria and one of the pastors we will be working with has asked our church to provide some items that are difficult for them to afford.

Needs

Children’s and adult clothing

Pens, pencils, and materials for writing

Exercise books

Blankets

*There will be 3 trunks available this Sunday if you desire to donate any of the items mentioned above. Our space is limited therefore please keep donations limited to what has been requested of us. Please note also that the trunks will not be available on May 11th because that is the day we will be leaving and need to have everything packed and ready to go. Thank you so much for helping with this effort and please continue to pray for our opportunities with the gospel, and our family as we are away.

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?