Monthly Archives: June 2016

“Drinking gas…”

Hello Grace Church family and friends!

I trust you are having a great day! The Lord is good… take a minute to praise Him for His gracious gift of forgiveness and peace found only in Jesus! Think about it, who really has the peace of God in their lives today? John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

The peace of God is important, but so is patience! Years ago in my haste, I asked my Mom if I could siphon some gas out of her car, mine was on empty! She said, “Yes!” So I proceeded in my haste to draw deep breaths on the pipe pulling gas out of her car into a small gas can. All was well… not quite! The fumes began to take affect and besides that, I swallowed a little gas in the process!!! Needless to say, in my haste to get some gas, I became sick and dizzy. I just had to have that gas. I had to “get on the road.” Not really! Here’s the lesson: Slow down, be patient and let the Lord work in your life! Patience is a virtue! Paul reminds us of this in Romans 12:12, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” Sometimes we run right past God’s will and direction. Slow down, seek Him and He will direct your paths!

Summer days are rolling full speed ahead! Thank you for your faithfulness. Faithfulness counts in every area of your Christian walk. Last week I mentioned a “Summer Bump.” Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and be faithful! Last week we had a good crowd. Be faithful in your attendance, in your service and in your giving. Cheryl and I love you and we love our church! Be faithful… let’s do this together!

Recently these words jumped off the page into my heart. Let them speak to you as well, 1 Samuel 12:24, “Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.”

See you tonight for Prayer Meeting at 6:30 pm.

In Christ,
Mike and Cheryl <><

“It’s Prayer Time!”

“It’s prayer time!” I have no doubt in my mind that these words were spoken shortly after Jesus ascended to His Father in heaven. No doubt! I have good reason for believing this. I took a moment just before I started writing to once again capture in my heart and mind the events of Ascension Day (see Acts 1). Angels were there, the disciples were there, which added up to 120 followers of Christ. God’s Word tells us that they “went up into an upper room.” Then it says, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.” For me this is gripping! Why? Jesus has just left them!!! But they have each other and they have prayer! Powerful!!! We have each other and we also have prayer available to us! Wednesday evenings is our time to gather with each other and pray. First century disciples of Jesus got it right. They prayed! Let’s get it right! Let’s follow their example… Let’s pray together and let the Lord touch our hearts as He touched theirs! Make no mistake about it; corporate prayer is crucial for the life of every church. Let’s pray!

John Stott once wrote, “I remember some years ago visiting a church incognito. I sat in the back row. . . . When we came to the pastoral prayer, it was led by a lay brother, because the pastor was on holiday. So he prayed that the pastor might have a good holiday. Well, that’s fine. Pastors should have good holidays. Second, he prayed for a lady member of the church who was about to give birth to a child that she might have a safe delivery, which is fine. Third, he prayed for another lady who was sick, and then it was over. That’s all there was. It took 20 seconds. I said to myself, it’s a village church with a village God. They have no interest in the world outside.  There was no thinking about the poor, the oppressed, the refugees, the places of violence, world evangelization.” Let’s not let this happen at Grace Church. Let’s pray!

I am looking forward to seeing you tonight! From 6:30-7:30 we will be praying together in our church sanctuary. This Sunday I will continue in John 17. Sunday’s crowd responded well to the message! I thank the Lord for that! Let me encourage you to be here. Be in your place… bring a friend and expect the Lord to work in your life. Be faithful… let’s have a “Summer Bump” and not a “Summer Slump!” Be faithful, Jesus was!

Jude 1:24 Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

Praying Together!

Mike and Cheryl <><

Orlando and Greenville…

Orlando, Florida and Greenville, North Carolina have something in common, the need for prayer! Over the past few days we have all watched in horror as the details of Orlando’s mass shooting blanketed every news network! Horror is even an understatement when considering these events. The bottom line is this. Our world is filled with broken people. In Orlando a broken Islamic fanatic fired his venom from an assault rifle. Yes, he did massacre gay men and women in a night club. Keep this in mind; he killed people that Jesus loved! He murdered people that Jesus died for! Here in our own city, broken people surround us. They are everywhere! People broken by sin who need Jesus are around you and me… they need Jesus, and they need our prayers. Look around you! As you ride to work today, look around you! As you walk into work, look around you! As you go to lunch today, look around you! As you ride home today, look around you! Broken people needing Jesus are everywhere. Yes, Orlando and Greenville have something in common! Orlando has broken people. Greenville has broken people. Jesus awaits! Jesus awaits our prayers! Jesus awaits our prayers for broken people! Pray Grace Church, pray!!! Let’s meet tonight at 6:30 pm in our Sanctuary and let’s pray for broken people… including ourselves! Luke 18:1 says, (Amplified Bible) ALSO [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up).

PRAYERS APPRECIATED ~ Our MISSION SERVE team leaders are: Michael Adams, Kent Bryson, Chris Lupo, Kim Lupo, John Martin, Susan Waldo and Jaron Walker. These teens are also serving on the team: Katie Adams, Makayla Adams, Jesse Almond, Morgan Ayscue, Jackson Bailey, Macy Bryson, Toby Bryson, Allison Canady, Natalie Martin, Mackenzie Mills, Amelia Moore and Allison Ostrum. Hannah Martin is also on a mission trip at this time. Pray for each of these as they make a difference for Jesus this week. THANK YOU for giving so that they can go! What a blessing knowing that Grace Church is making a difference for Christ here in Greenville and around the world!

FAITHFULNESS UPDATE ~ Summertime at many churches produces a drop in attendance and in giving. I want to encourage you to a deeper faithfulness in these two areas. DON’T LET THE SUMMER SLUMP GET YOU! Our daily spiritual needs and our churches financial needs know no seasons. I would suggest that if you are going to be out of town on Sundays, as you will be at some point use our ONLINE GIVING OPTION at gracechurchnc.com. Cheryl and I will be gone this summer, just as you will be. May the Lord always find us faithful to Him and to His church! Aren’t you glad the Lord continues His blessing year round? He’s faithful church! Praise the Lord! Psalm 89:52 Blessed be the Lord forevermore! Amen and Amen.

“Jesus stood in my shoes”

When God saves, He saves us by free grace, wholly apart from anything in us or anything we might “bring to the table” later. This is a shocking truth, hard to hear, but entirely Biblical. And in the end, it is most comforting because it means that anyone, anywhere, at any time can come to Christ for salvation. No one has any advantage since “there is no difference” because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

The story is told about an elderly country woman named Betty who trusted in Christ for salvation. One of her skeptical friends heard about it, and intending to make fun of her, asked if she had indeed become one of the saints. “Yes, I have,” she replied. “Well,” said the skeptic, “are you now an expert in theology?” “I’m no Bible scholar,” Betty replied. “I’m simply positive that God loves me enough that He’d rather go to hell than have me go there, and that God loves me enough that he’d rather leave heaven and die than for me not to get to heaven to be with him.” The skeptic insisted, “Is that all you know about it? Can’t you at least explain what being saved by grace means—that is one of your central doctrines, isn’t it?” Betty thought for a moment, and then answered with these words: “Jesus stood in my shoes at Calvary, now I’m standing in His.” It would be hard to find a better explanation of justification by grace through faith.

This is so hard for us to believe. We would prefer to work for our salvation. But God’s gift of salvation costs us nothing, even though it cost Christ everything. The Lord now says to us, “Take it by faith! It’s yours for free. I have paid the cost for you.” Source: Unknown

Evangelism & The Southern Baptist Convention

By James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, GA

What have younger Southern Baptists lost in terms of evangelism that previous generations had? Perhaps I should somewhat broaden the question by replacing “younger” with “contemporary.” I don’t want to make only the “younger generation” the scapegoat for addressing what both objective statistics show and our subjective hearts know: Southern Baptist churches are not evangelizing like they used to.

Take the term “soul-winning,” for instance. It’s got so much dust on it that I need to take a leaf blower and dust it off before my congregation even knows what I mean! For most Millennials and Gen-Xers, “soul-winning” belongs in the linguistic dinosaur category. But the disappearance of “soul-winning” simply reflects deeper trends. When it comes to our present situation in the SBC, I am not concerned as much with terminology as I am with problems of methodology and theology.

Southern Baptists, young and old, share a strong belief that the Bible is God’s Word. Yet when we read in Acts that Jesus said to disciples “You shall be my witnesses…” we have to ask, “Where are they? Where are the witnesses in Southern Baptist life?” Call me a dinosaur, but I want to know,“Where are the soul-winners?” And before you criticize my use of the word, give me a better one I can use in its place. Isn’t that the core of gospel ministry—winning souls back from death in the power of the Spirit for our King Jesus? Allow me to venture into choppy waters and give three thoughts to ponder.

First, I think there is a famine for the gospel, both inside and outside the church. I have personally attended some of the largest and fastest growing churches in my city and throughout the country. Churches whose creativity, innovation, and ability to draw large crowds are both admirable and inspirational. Yet in most of these churches the gospel wasn’t even mentioned, much less preached. Paul told the Corinthians that the central message of Christianity, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was “of first importance” (1 Cor 15:3), and that he would know nothing else but “Christ and him crucified.”

The most important message we have is the gospel! Why in the world would we ever want to hide it? We should declare the gospel at every weekend service and share it in every individual situation where God even cracks open the door. The gospel is the message of life, and I cannot think of one downside of making sure that message is clearly presented in our churches.

That leads to my second thought: many people seem reluctant, if not revolted, at the idea of giving an “invitation” during a worship service. I am not necessarily advocating for a “come down the aisle” moment every week. Some of my generation have made that practice into a litmus test for whether a person is a true ”pastor/evangelist.” They have made a sometimes-useful tool into a methodological idol.

Let’s be careful, though, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are many ways to extend an invitation: it may be to walk forward, but it doesn’t have to be. We can invite people to walk to the back, as we do in our church, where people can come talk with me at a designated pastor’s table. Or we invite them to fill out a card, so that we can contact them first thing Monday. We may have designated follow-up times for those with questions.

The younger generation seems to be doing a far better job than previous generations in getting more unchurched people into our services. We should celebrate that! We should also use the opportunity God has given us in that moment. Let’s take a cue from a prior generation by presenting the gospel clearly and giving people a chance to respond. If I could say it this way: Maybe the evangelism explosion we yearn for today will be found when we take the younger generation’s ability to engage and wed it to the previous generation’s ability to harvest.

My third observation is the most crucial: many of our pastors, staff, and laity are simply not witnessing themselves. No generation gets a pass here. But when you listen to this generation, to their stories, their narrative, their messages, and their books, it can be difficult to hear a burden for one-on-one evangelism.

I read something many years ago that gripped my heart: “The two most embarrassing questions you can ask any Christian are these: (1) When is the last time you led a person to Jesus Christ? and (2) When is the last time you tried?” I will be the first one to admit that there are times in my life when I am glad no one asked me that question. My embarrassment level would have been a 10.0 on the Richter scale!

Jesus plainly said to all of us, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). There aren’t a lot of hooks in the water, even though the lake is filled to the brim. There aren’t a lot of plows in the ground, even though the fields are white unto harvest. That applies to all of us.

We need to ask: Do we really believe that the most important decision anyone will ever make in life is to follow Jesus? Do we really believe that people without Christ will spend eternity separated from God? Do we really believe what Jesus said about being his witnesses and his fishermen? Do we really believe the greatest love one person can show to another is to share the life-changing message of the gospel?

We know the right answer to these questions. But we need more than the right answers. When it comes to evangelism—and yes, soul-winning—we need obedient actions, because actions will always speak louder in words.

Every day Jesus is asking all of his followers, in every generation: “Can I get a witness?” May our preaching in the church and practice outside the church be a resounding “Yes!”