Thursday, January 19, 2012

No Such Thing As a Free Lunch

They say there is no such thing as a free lunch, but for sure there is such a thing as a free breakfast!  It is sponsored by the Sisters in Christ TMC Community and well take place on Sunday, January 29th, at 8:15 in Room 303.  This will replace our normal teaching session for that day.  The purpose for this special breakfast is to have time for more fellowship and to cast a "new and improved" vision for our community of sisters.  Every woman currently a part of our Sisters class is invited, as well as any other women in our congregation who are not currently connected with a TMC Community.

We're going to serve a delicious hot breakfast, and then talk about what we can do to make our class even more effective at teaching the Word, providing a safe and supportive place for women of all ages and stages in life, and reaching out in service projects to the needs of women and children in our city.

You are invited to join us.  If you have any questions, contact Mary Whelchel at

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A New Prayer Life for 2012!

I'm always very excited about a new year. And this year is no different! There is something very refreshing and exhilarating to me about a new start, new beginnings, and new resolutions! I cannot think of a better excuse to sit down and think about the year ahead and set some goals than a new year! 

This year I narrowed all my resolutions into one... A new prayer life. It all started when I began studying the book of Acts by Tim Keller with a small group of girls. I've been floored by the first Christians and their commitment to prayer. Couple the study of Acts with the book the staff of TMC is reading, A Call to Spiritual Reformation by D.A. Carson, and God is getting my attention. Carson does a great job in his book of listing practical reasons of why we do and do not pray. He also takes us through the prayers of Paul and gives some practical examples of how to pray. Keller's commentary on prayer is more about what prayer is and why the early church was so committed to it. 

There is no way I could sum up all that I've been learning through these books and my own prayer journey in this one entry, but I will sum up two of the main points that have convinced me that my ONE goal and focus of 2012 should be on prayer.

Two reasons why we should pray:
Acts 4:23-31 – We meet with God and it changes our perspective.

This prayer is from a group of believers who are praising God after the release of Peter and John from prison. The environment in Jerusalem is hostile and Christians are facing persecution in every direction. Peter and John were sent to prison in the first place b/c both the Pharisees and Sadducess were feeling threatened by the speed of the Gospel in Jerusalem. When released, the believers with Peter and John pray a prayer to God that literally shakes the room (v.31)! And they were all "filled with the Holy Spirit  and spoke the word of God boldly." I'm not sure about you, but I can't recall a time I prayed and had a similar result. Here is Tim Keller's response to why this prayer was so remarkable:

"First, there is a connection of their heart weakness with the attributes of God. There is a great deal of time spent reflecting on and praising God for his greatness and power. They especially concentrate on his “Sovereignty” and control of all things (v.24) In other words, they do not simply ask for boldness (v.29), but they actually heal themselves of their fear by mediating on the attribute of God most antithetical to their fear. It means we are not just to ask God to take away our worry, but we should meditate and “pray in” his wisdom. We should not just ask God for more confidence, but we should “pray in” his grace and love. We should just not ask God for more self-control, but we should “pray in” his holiness. We are to heal hearts by praying his specific attributes into ourselves.

Second, there is a connection of their ministry situation with promises and statements in the Scripture. They go to Psalm 2 and remember David’s words that the world leaders will be hostile to the Messiah. The then think of what Herod and Pilate did and what the disciples themselves are facing now at the hands of civil rulers. But then, in v28, they realize that “they did what your power and will had decided beforehand would happen.” This realization is an enormous source of power. The connection of their current situation with the Bible and with the sovereignty of God shows them that murder of Jesus did not display human power but divine power. Through their process of prayer, they realize that the same court that killed Jesus has now released them, because everything is totally under God’s control. They have nothing to worry about – whether they are killed or protected. Either way, God is going to love and honor and use them, and they are going to triumph with him. You can see as they pray, the boldness and power grow!

Third, therefore, we see that there is no request for protection! They do not ask that their lives and families and wealth be protected. (not that these requests aren’t improper, they just weren’t primary.) They make two requests – they ask for boldness (v.38) to articulate the gospel message and they ask for God to continue to show evidence that their message is his word (v.39) So all they ask is for is to continue their ministry. They ask not for miracles of vengeance on the rulers, but for continued miracles of mercy, people healed and converted."

Acts 13:1-3 – We meet with God and He reveals Himself.
This second reason as to why we should pray didn't catch me at first. I had to read this text several times before I noticed what I see to be a key element in a deep prayer life. Saul (Paul) and Barnabas are with the Antioch Church and praying and fasting...something they do regularly. As a result of this time before God, they hear the Holy Spirit say, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." This calling from the Spirit led to the first missionary journey and marks the beginning of Paul's evangelistic efforts. Again, Keller says it best:

"Luke indicates that the Antioch church did not come to the concept of strategic missions as a result of their seeking it directly. Verse 2 says, “while they were worshipping the Lord and fasting”. The most natural reading of these words is that they were not in a special season of prayer, not like they were specifically and deliberately planning for missions. Rather they were going about their routine work of worship and seeking God’s presence. Note who was praying -- verse 1 refers to the whole church along with the leaders, so it is possible that this prayer time was not just for the 5 prophet/teachers noted in verse 2.

What do we learn from this? Surely we cannot infer from this that special seasons of prayer or deliberate planning is wrong! Rather, what we learn is that what would seem like “special” prayer for us was clearly “routine” for this church. Periods of intense worship, fasting, and seeking God’s presence were normal for them. And it shows us that this time is the kind of church that God reveals himself to."

So when I see two examples of prayer (and Lord knows there a hundreds more!) in Scripture with such incredible power behind them, it gets my attention. My focus in 2012 is to meet with God for a changed perspective -- a perspective set on His sovereignty and other divine attributes. And to be in a place where He can reveal Himself to me. That's it. And it would be super cool if I did experience a room shaking from time to time!

Praying for you!