Prayer Tip #45

[From Lauris Shepherd, one of our Elders]

“The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray.  You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”  – S.D. Gordon

Do you agree?  (You may be at the “curious” stage: “That’s an interesting statement.  I wonder if it’s really true?”)  What does the Bible say?

  • John 15:5
    I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
  • Psalm 127:1-2
    Unless the LORD builds the house,
    They labor in vain who build it;
    Unless the LORD guards the city,
    The watchman keeps awake in vain.
    It is vain for you to rise up early,
    To retire late,
    To eat the bread of painful labors;
    For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
  • Matthew 7:7
    Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
  • James 4:2
    You do not have because you do not ask.

When we’re faced with a need or a request for prayer, we may think, “The least I can do is pray.”   No, that’s the most I can do… until I do pray.  And when I pray I want to include a request that He shows me if there is anything I can do.  Pray.  Listen.  Then do (what He shows).

I’m convinced the statement is true.  Are you?  Now we just need to be more committed to it.

 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.” – Philippians 4:6  NLT

 

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Preparing Our Hearts for Worship: 01-29-2012

[Listen to all]

  1. Forever – Chris Tomlin [Listen]
  2. Greatly to be Praised – Fee [Listen]
  3. Lift Us Up, for We Are Heavy Laden – Original
  4. Lord I Need You – Chris Tomlin [Listen]
  5. NEW! 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) – Matt Redman [Listen]

NEW SONG: 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before, O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before, O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before, O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before, O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

– Chris

For more information on GBC, visit begrace.org.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

[From David McMurry, our Senior Pastor]

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
– Psalm 115:1

Every January, the leadership of the church looks back on the previous year and looks forward to the new one.  We make a point to pause and celebrate God’s love and faithfulness in our midst.

Looking Back

In 2011, Grace Bible Church expanded steadily and deepened significantly.

We expanded through continued growth in attendance and baptisms. We attracted mature Christian leaders, and many  un-churched families.  We expanded our capacity with a healthy 3rd Service, improved facilities, and a growing building fund.

We also deepened significantly through increased ministry partnership among our members.  This led to a dramatic increase in volunteers, small groups, giving, leadership development, and infrastructure (we doubled our deacons, and wrote S.O.P.s in multiple areas).

2011 was hard, but also grace-filled.

In 2011, more soldiers were simultaneously deployed from Fort Hood (and from Grace Bible Church) than any other time in ten years of war.  In 2011, we walked with four families through the loss of infant children.  In 2011, the chairman of our deacon board got cancer, and our most seasoned elder moved to a new state.  In the midst of the difficulties, we can still see God at work growing us in our dependence on his grace, and growing the number of people hearing the Gospel and responding to it in faith and life transformation.

Looking Forward

What’s next?  As the pastors and elders celebrated God’s work in 2011, we also prayed about our direction for 2012.  Here are the critical needs we want our members to focus on in the new year:

Expanding

  • 3rd SERVICE:  We need every member to consider attending or inviting friends to the 5 pm service. We are out of space at 9 and 10:30.
  • OUR FUTURE:  We need every member to pray for clarity in our future plans.  Should we buy land?  Should we pay off our building more quickly?  Should we plant new independent churches?  Should we expand to multiple locations?  We need you to pray with us for God to guide us as we narrow our choices.

Deepening

  • FIND AN APPRENTICE:  We need every member to bring a partner alongside them in their area of ministry.
  • OWN THE VISION:   We need every member to grow as a disciple of Jesus.
    • Are you trusting in God’s GRACE personally?
    • Are you submitting to the BIBLE in community?
    • Are you being the CHURCH in ministry?


Click here to view a PDF version
of our annual meeting presentation.

Parenting: Trading the Rod for the Staff

[By Angela Parker, our Children’s Ministry Director]

Lately, I have been struggling with my son, Aiden. He is defiant, disobedient, rude, and argumentative. The tantrums we had outgrown years before have returned and each day, I find myself locked in a perpetual battle of the wills. I have taken to scouring every parenting book I own (and even digging into the libraries of my friends and neighbors), trying to find something, anything to get us through this phase.

I recently borrowed a collection of Christian parenting books from a neighbor and fellow mom that all spoke to one common truth: that it isn’t enough to use discipline to enforce the rules with our kids. That we must go beyond addressing the behavior and delve into shaping the hearts of our kids, their motivations, and inspire in them an obedience not only to the letter of the law, but the spirit of it, as well. That we must shepherd the hearts and minds of our children and not just seek to change their outward behavior.

I’ve been reading these books, filing away this knowledge, praying and trying to understand just how I could implement it in my day-to-day parenting. Because let’s face it: when your child has just flat disobeyed you, you’re standing in the checkout lane with all of God’s creation staring down at you and your naughty, sassy-mouthed child, you are sleep-deprived, have needed to pee for 30 minutes and are running behind in your day, the last thing you are thinking is, Hmmm, how can we address the heart issues behind this behavior? What you are thinking is, I want to put a stop to this RIGHT NOW! So, if you are like me, you spout off with a “STOP THAT NOW!” through gritted teeth, accompanied by a look you hope will scare him straight. You repeat yourself, adding a bit more tension and seriousness to your voice. You might even lean over and whisper into his ear what his punishment will be when you get home or to the car. Eventually, when my eyes are bulging and every muscle in my face and neck is tensed from the effort of NOT strangling him right there in the grocery store, he obeys my request. And although his behavior may change for the moment, the same infraction always seems to be repeated a few hours later.

So, I decided to really put this idea of both behavioral AND heart correction into practice a few days ago. I made the painful decision to stop repeating myself and retrain Aiden to obey me after one request–which has meant a lot of discipline and punishments these past few days, with the hope that once he learns to obey the first time, there will be fewer battles in the long run. And I’ve stopped barking orders at him and started working on his heart, trying to teach him why it is important to honor me, to learn obedience to me, and ultimately, to God.

Honestly, things have been slow-going and frustrating these past few days. I haven’t seen progress and if anything, Aiden seems more resistant than ever. Today, when I asked him to complete a simple chore (using the pooper-scooper to clean up after the family pet), things quickly dissolved into all out war. I asked him to do the chore. He ran out in the backyard. I go out 30 minutes later, and he’s barely started, choosing to goof off instead. I remind him that he’s not doing anything else until the chore is complete. He continues to goof off. Two and a half hours later…the scoop is still mostly empty. At this point, I am out of time to wait on him, so I set a timer for 15 minutes, a reasonable time to complete the job, and tell him that if he doesn’t complete the task in time, he will receive one swat for being disobedient. He wastes his 15 minutes. He gets a swat. I reset the timer and send him back out, telling him the next time will be two swats. He still goofs off. I deliver the punishment and he leaves the house wailing at how unfair I am, how stupid chores are, how horrible his life is. I reset the timer…and then start praying.

I knew that what I was doing wasn’t working. I’d even tried talking with him after his spanking, tried to calm him and encourage him to get the work done. I wasn’t about to let him off the hook, but what could I do? I couldn’t just keep setting the timer and spanking the kid all night! So I prayed: for patience, for wisdom. I cried out to the Lord how ill-equipped I was to deal with this stubborn, willful child and asked for help. And then the timer went off. But miraculously, as I walked outside, I knew what the Lord wanted me to do.

Time to put down the rod…and pick up the staff.

I went outside and I could just see Aiden tense up, waiting for his punishment. But I just walked up behind him and placed one hand on the rake and one hand on the handle to the scoop, my grown-up hands over his, and began to help him with his chore. We worked like that for a couple of minutes, me helping Aiden, saying very little. And then I asked him, “Aiden, do you know what grace means?” I explained to him how grace was a reprieve–it meant being treated far better than you deserved. I explained that I was offering him grace, a reprieve from punishment. And there in my back yard, picking up dog poop after an exhausting afternoon of fighting, I was a shepherd to my son, leading him through the gospel. I explained about sin, about the holiness of God, about how we could never be good enough to earn God’s forgiveness–but that He gave it anyway, for any who would accept it.  We talked about the incredible gift of Jesus. And he responded, asking questions, surprising me with his insight, though clothed in childish terms and analogies. We worked like that for about 30 minutes, our steps clumsy and our movements awkward with my hands over his. But as we completed that disgusting chore, God was using our struggle to do something truly beautiful.

I am not so naive as to believe that this one afternoon has erased all of Aiden’s disobedience, and I can guarantee you that every infraction won’t be met with such grace in our home–there will still be many times when the rod rules the moment and I discipline Aiden as God has charged me to do. But today, I picked up the staff of the shepherd, and by offering him grace and leading my son through the gospel, I have planted seeds that in the coming years, I hope to see take root in the heart of my son, transforming him into a true believer and follower of Christ.

PS–Curious about the books I’ve been reading? Check out Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart and it’s companion book, Instructing a Child’s Heart. (Click the image to be taken to Amazon).

[Originally posted at http://theparkerpack.blogspot.com/2012/01/trading-rod-for-staff.html]

For more information on GBC, visit begrace.org.

Preparing Our Hearts for Worship: 22 JAN 2012

[Listen to all]

  1. O Worship the King (Chris Tomlin/Passion) [Listen]
  2. Everlasting God (Lincoln Brewster remix) [Listen]
  3. Forever Changed (Eddie Kirkland/Northpoint) [Listen]
  4. Nothing Compares (Andy Melvin) [Watch]
  5. Sound of Melodies (Leeland) [Listen]

One of the aspects of this worship set that I’m looking forward to is the relationship between the “bookend” songs.

In O Worship the King, we start with a song that lyrically allows us to actively call each other to worship. We see who God is, we recognize that he is beautiful and worthy of our praise, and we encourage each other to sing out— not because it’s “just what you do at church”, but because it’s right and good to do it. Through the middle songs, we walk through redemptive work of God in our lives with themes of Adoration, Confession, and Assurance of Pardon.

And finally comes Sound of Melodies. What I love about this song is that it contains such powerful themes of remembrance and gratefulness for who God is and what He has done in our lives. Whereas O Worship the King was sung as a horizontal reminder to each other of God’s worth and character, Sound of Melodies is a collective song of thanks aimed directly towards the ears of our great Rescuer. Can You hear this song rising up to You, God? Can you hear the result of Your passionate work of grace on our behalf, echoing back to you from within us? This is the sound of Your love— our hope, our unity, our thanks.

All great works of redemption begin and end with God, and we are blessed to end up singing out from underneath the fountainhead of God’s blessings through His work in us.

– Chris

For more information on GBC, visit begrace.org.

Prayer Tip #44: Fighting Fear with the Promises of God

[From Lauris Shepherd, one of our Elders]

We had a wonderful ½ Day in Prayer last Saturday!  This year we plan to do that the second Saturday of each month.  Please plan to join us when you can.

Prayer Tip #44

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

What are you anxious about?  What do you fear? Jacob (Genesis 32:9-12) gives us a great example for dealing with our fears.  Note:

  • He addresses his prayer to “O God of my father…O Lord”,  the One and only all powerful God and his Lord.
  • He’s praying while in the process of obeying God – “You said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives…’”.
  • He prays with humility and thanksgiving – “I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown…”.
  • He’s grateful, having come with only a staff and now has ‘two companies’.
  • He identifies his fear and states his request – “Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me…”
  • Then he claims God’s promise to him – “But You have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper…”

What promises has God given you?  You can stand on them.  His promises are absolute certainty, no ‘chance’ involved.  (You don’t have to know probabilities and statistics.  That’s Good News for everyone, not just those who don’t like math.)

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Preparing Our Hearts for Worship: 15 JAN 2012

Here are the songs we’ll be singing this week. Hope you get the chance to chew on the words and sing along your cars!

[Listen to all]

  1. You’re Worthy of My Praise (Passion version) [Listen]
  2. 73 (Original)
  3. House of God, Forever (Jon Foreman version) [Listen]
  4. Beneath the Cross of Jesus (Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken version) [Listen]
  5. Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee (Remix of Charlie Hall version) [Listen]

– Chris

For more information on GBC, visit begrace.org.