From Pastor Peter 30-Jan-2015

Dear Grace Family,

Jumping back into Romans
Can you believe this Sunday is the 1st of February already?!  Unreal.  Well, this Sunday we get back into our sermon series on the book of Romans.  We've got some great chapters to cover in the days ahead, and we're picking up where we left off in Romans 8.  Consider refreshing your memory by reading through the chapter between now & our worship service on Sunday.

Give | Pray | Serve
Hope you're excited about the vision we've been casting over the last three Sundays, praying God would use these messages to stir our hearts to take a stand, speak for Christ, and sacrifice in light of the mercy & grace shown to us.  If you haven't already done so, check out our website and take your next step with us as we live out this vision together in 2015 and beyond.

First GFC Newport Prayer Meeting!
We're only a little more than a week away from our very first corporate prayer meeting.  I'm VERY excited about this for our church family, and hope you are, too.  I hope you'll join us Monday evening, 09-Feb, 7p at the Florence Campus to spend this time coming before the Lord in prayer.  (Optional dinner & childcare will be provided; click HERE to register and help us get our headcount).

Have a great weekend!

God bless,

Pastor Peter

From Pastor Peter 23-Jan-2015

Dear Grace Family,

This Sunday
I'm looking forward to being back with you at church!  I'm also looking forward Pastor Brad giving us our marching orders, calling each one of us to seriously consider what God might have each of us do so that we can move forward to reach people for Christ, and please Him with our lives.

Newport Prayer Meeting - Mon, 09-Feb

It turns out there were two other meetings on the original date we planned our Prayer Meeting for.  We decided to bump it back a week, hoping that'll make it easier for more to join us.  So continue to save the date - the NEW date - Mon, 09-Feb, 6:30p dinner (optional), 7p start.  Hope to see you there!  (Also, I'm blogging about prayer between now & then to help get us ready to spend this time together.  My post from yesterday is HERE.) 

Pray for me today & tomorrow as I speak at a Men's Retreat.  I think it's unique in that I've never preached to a group I have absolutely no relational connection to (I'll meet them when I get there).  Pray for me as I preach and spend this time with them, that God would be pleased to do great things for His glory & our good.

See you Sunday,


The “Benefits” of Praying

“Because I said so.  That’s why.”

Did your parents ever say that to you as a kid?  I don’t remember Mom saying it often, but she did say it.  I hated it so much!  I just wanted to know why, that’s all.  I just wanted a reason behind the request so I could better understand it.  That’s all.  Why can’t they simply provide that for me?  I remember thinking through all these thoughts about how hard a life I was leading in suffering through such injustices at the hand of my mother.  Sometimes I would think these things.  Other times I would verbalize these things.  Both yielded the same result.  Mom didn’t explain…because she didn’t have to.

Brief side note…remember when you swore you’d never say that to your kids?  How’s that goin’ for ya?  {;-)

If Mom didn’t have to give me a reason (and she didn’t), and I just had to do what she was telling me to do (which I did), how much more so is that the case with God?  Does the sovereign creator and ruler of the universe have to give us the reasons He tells us to do something?  It’s an obvious “no,” folks.  He can do what He wants, and He can not do what He doesn’t want to do.  He owes us nothing.

Although she was well within her rights as a parent to not have to explain herself to her young son, she didn’t always refuse to.  In fact, many times she did, and they proved to be good times of teaching for me.

God does the same with us throughout the Scriptures.  In His kindness, He has chosen to communicate with us, His children, and loves us enough to tell us what is best, what would honor Him, but also to give us the answer to the “Why?” we may ask (even when He knows sometimes, like tender young Peter with his mother, the motive behind the question is just to delay obedience).

We’re told to pray (1 Thess. 5.17).

In fact, Christ assumes we pray (Matt. 6:5,6,7 – Note the phrase “When you pray,” three times in a row).

But the Bible is replete with Scriptures showing the benefits of praying that give us all the more reason to grow in prayer as a church. Let’s take a look at a few.

We pray because we can have peace of mind and protection (Philippians 4:6,7).

We pray for wisdom and guidance before we make important decisions (Luke 6:12,13).

We pray for more workers for a task that requires more people than we have (Luke 10:2).

We pray to protect us from falling into temptation because of the weakness of our faith and flesh (Matt. 26:41).

We pray because He listens (1 John 5:14).

And finally, one of my personal favorites; we pray to God because He is for us and He has the means to give us what we’re asking (Matt. 7:7-11).

What about you?  Which of these “benefits of prayer” struck you?  Can you think of others?  Why do you pray?

I love being your pastor, look forward to growing with you in prayer, and can’t wait to be back with you at church on Sunday.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Peter

From Pastor Peter 16-Jan-2015

Dear Grace Family,

Pastor Brad got us off to a great start last week in our new sermon series, casting vision for 2015 and beyond:

‘That God would raise up a generation of Christians who have the courage to stand, the confidence to speak up, and the heart to sacrifice because they’re committed to the truth of God’s Word, the mission of God’s church, and the mercy of God’s Son – Jesus Christ.”

This Sunday, I’ll seek to present a second necessary part of our vision series, seeking to answer the question “Who are we?”  In addition to looking at our 8 “Big Rocks,” I hope we’re also challenged from God’s Word to not fall into an often overlooked trap that sometimes comes as a result of the vision-leak and mission-creep Brad spoke of last week: unfruitfulness.  What causes this?  What can we do to prevent it as we seek fruitfulness in mission and vision in the days God has given us?  Let’s prayerfully look to God’s Word for answers as we continue to seek to please our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ together as a church family.

We’ll look at a variety of Scriptures together, but one portion of Scripture worth reading through between now & Sunday is Mark 4:1-20.  We’ll spend some time there together, so consider familiarizing yourself with this parable over the weekend.

One last thing…did you catch my post yesterday?  If not, give it a read sometime soon as I hope this serves as a preparation for our first corporate prayer meeting on 02-Feb.  I’m very, very excited about this (you should be, too)!

God bless,

Pastor Peter

Invitation to Seek His Face


   You have said, “Seek my face.”
       My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”   (Psalm 27:8)

Sometimes you read something in the Bible and, at least at first glance, you realize it’s going to take some more time, consideration, study, etc., in order to understand what the writer is saying.  Psalm 27:8 is not one of those texts.

It seems simple enough.  The Lord says to David that he is to seek his face, and David says that’s what he’ll do.

Is there a better way to get to know people other than speaking to them, face-to-face?

Think about the heroes of the faith, or great men & women that God has providentially used throughout redemptive history to accomplish great things.  You can learn much about them through biographies and books.  Perhaps there are classes you could take to learn about the founding fathers of the faith, or our country, and listen to people who speak about them as if they knew them personally.  Richard Salmon was my Global Studies teacher in my sophomore year of high school, and the man spoke of Charlemagne like they went to school together.  Dr. Michael Haykin, a seminary professor and friend of mine, speaks of Martin Luther as if he was in Wittenberg when the 95 Theses were nailed to a church door on October 31, 1517.  As thankful as I am for men like these, if I had a choice between sitting under their teaching and sitting with the people of whom they spoke, I’d cut both their classes in a heartbeat in order to meet the men of which they spoke.

We have a healthy church in which God is doing many great things.  Pastor Brad, myself, and anyone who preaches in our pulpits, pour over biblical texts for countless hours leading up to the sermon you hear on Sunday.  The result is, by God’s grace, a preacher who is rightly dividing the Word of truth and God changes hearts, minds & lives as a result.  Sound orthodoxy ought to lead to sound orthopraxy.  By God’s good grace, we are a healthy church.

It’s possible, however, to simultaneously be healthy and imbalanced.  I believe that’s where our church is when it comes to prayer.  I’m convinced that as wonderful as it is to have sound preaching, corporate prayer is not something that is as vibrant in our gatherings, large or small, as it should be.

Bible reading is important.  Don’t stop.  In fact, if you have the opportunity to read more, please do!   However, unlike others that we can only read about, we have the opportunity to read about, hear about, and speak directly to our great Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, through prayer.

This blog post is the first of a few that I hope whets your appetite to grow in this important area as we look forward to our very first corporate prayer meeting on Mon, 02-Feb.  May God be pleased to show us His glory as we seek his face together, collectively, as a church family throughout this calendar year.

You’re invited to seek His face.  It’s my hope & prayer that we’ll collectively respond like David, saying we’ll do just that.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Peter

From Pastor Peter Fri, 09-Jan-2015

Dear Grace Family,

Our new sermon series kicks off this Sunday! Here's what Pastor Brad has to say about it:

"I am so excited to share my heart with you this Sunday about where we are as a church, and where I think God is calling us to go next.  I am more excited about this message than I’ve been for anything in a long time, so don’t miss this Sunday!  Do whatever you can to be with me this Sunday.  I guarantee you won’t be sorry.

I’m going to unpack in greater detail the vision being cast for our church: 

That God would raise up a generation of Christians who have the courage to stand, the confidence to speak up, and the heart to sacrifice, because of the truth of God’s Word, the mission of God’s Church, and the mercy of God’s Son – Jesus Christ."

Two more days of vacation and then I'm back in the saddle, excited for all God has in store for us in this new year. Hope you are, too!

God bless,

Pastor Peter

From Pastor Peter 02-Jan-2015

Dear Grace Family,

Happy New Year!  This Sunday, we're planning on spending our 1st Sunday of the year together in a very special way, dedicating our entire time together to worshiping the Lord through song & prayer.  I hope you'll come ready to pray prayers of adoration and thanksgiving to the Lord, and also ready to present to Him requests since we're a needy people, and He's our great & mighty God.

Sarah & I are coming up to a bittersweet time (admittedly, a bit more sweet than bitter).  It's bitter because we'll not be with you for the next two Sundays.  However, it's sweet because of the reason...we're getting away together!  I'm so looking forward to spending time with the love of my life as we take a trip, just the two of us.  We've tried to do this regularly, believing the unhurried time without distractions is VERY good for our marriage, but it's been a few years since we've been able to get I'm excited to not have to share her with anyone for a week and get her all to myself. {;-)  Please pray for our time away!

Lastly, if you would please pray for me tonight, I'd greatly appreciate it.  I'm preaching a funeral service for a two-month-old baby who passed away in our church (Selah Anne Estes - details are HERE).  What a hard, hard time this is for all who are affected by her passing.  Still, as hard as it is, we're not without hope and help from our gracious God.  Please pray for me as I seek to provide comfort, hope and preach the Gospel from God's all-sufficient Word.  I'd greatly appreciate it.

Love you all,

Pastor Peter
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