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

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Pastoral Devotion – #2

5 07 2008

Another great quote from Spurgeon via Bryan’s staff devo this week:

“Oh! my brethren, there is nothing that can so advantage you, nothing can so prosper you, so assist you, so make you walk towards heaven rapidly, so keep you head upwards towards the sky, and your eyes radiant with glory, like the imitation of Jesus Christ.”





Incentive!

3 07 2008

During this week’s staff devotion, ‘The quotable Pastor Bryan’ led us from Acts 4 (imagine that!), and made this profound statement:

➢    For our own sake, we should imitate Christ…because if we are becoming Christlike, we are becoming Christlike.

Well said! Is that not the incentive above all incentives?





Treasuring Christ Together

15 06 2008

(by: jt)

I’m in Minneapolis for Monday’s final Treasuring Christ Together meeting for the ’07-’08 year. These gatherings are for church planters who have some sort of connection to Bethlehem. Each meeting has proven immensely profitable for me.

Fellowshipping with like-minded church planters over matters that are essential to the church’s health is a unique joy. And being a pastor of one of the youngest TCT churches affords me the privilege of being able to learn from those who are just ahead of us in the journey. We’ve prayed for one another, counseled each other through pastoral needs, and gained insight from one another’s ministry strategies. Added to that, staying with my good friends John and Leslie Erickson is always a treat.

Thank you Lord for the gift that the Treasuring Christ Together vision has been in my life, and now for many others in Memphis. May what we’ve seen to date of Your work through the TCT churches only be a foretaste of Your purposes to bless beyond our greatest imaginations!

Solus Christus!





Summer of Spreading Christ

11 06 2008

(by: jt)

While seeking that Grace’s efforts will always overlap, Grace Church intentionally seeks to concentrate her focus differently during the school year and during the summer.

  • During the school year—September-May, Grace’s primary focus is on ‘Seeing Christ
  • During the summer—June-August, Grace’s primary focus is on ‘Showing Christ

Now that we are well-engaged in our ‘Summer of Spreading Christ‘ I wanted to try to whet your appetite to do something, and to anticipate something.

  1. Most importantly, I want to encourage you to be intentional about spreading Christ this summer. There are a variety of ways this can happen. That long-desired gospel conversation with a work-associate, family member, or long-time friend… now’s the time. Pray up and preach Christ. You’ll be glad you did! I would appreciate your prayers for me as I’m eager to have that gospel conversation with a number of folks myself.
  2. I also want to make you aware of a new aspect of Grace’s ‘Summer of Spreading’ that will happen right here on the GC blog. We’ve asked a few of our church members to help us ‘spread’ by contributing posts on various topics. The goal is not simply information, but encouragement. Namely, encouragement toward obedience in commending Jesus to a lost and dying world. I hope these posts will stimulate you and I to that end.

A few of the topics that are already underway by folks in our church, and will be posted soon are:

  • Honoring Christ in the Workplace: A Christ-Centered Approach to Vocation
  • BYBC: Receiving The Greater Blessing Through Ministry to Uptown Kids & Adults
  • New Attitude: Applied Theology For All – Through the eyes of the Next Generation
  • The Nature of God: How His Greatness Applies to Today
  • Following Christ Through Significant Change: Saying ‘Yes, Lord’ When It Changes Everything
  • …and maybe more. These are just the one’s that are currently under construction. Stay tuned…

Here’s a few shots from the first several evenings of Back Yard Bible Clubs.

That Christ May be exalted among our neighbors, the nations, and the next generation!





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!