All Parish Bulletin

Abiding in the Presence of God

Prayer is central to the life of the believer. Jesus teaches us to pray, models what a life of prayer looks like, and invites us today to engage in prayer as a way of existing. Paul challenges the church in Thessalonica to pray without ceasing. What?! How is this possible?

In a world of notifications, overbooked calendars, never-ending to do lists, etc., making time to pray seems more and more difficult by the day. Jesus is routinely waking up before sunrise to spend time in the presence of the Father. I believe starting from that place, the first-fruits of our time, is a great way to get our minds and hearts in a position to pray throughout the day. 

My excuses for not waking up early to abide in the presence of God often consist of, “I need sleep; Nothing really happens when I abide; I’ll carve out time later in the day to do it.” While some of these reasons are valid, I find that I often don’t get into the groove of prayer and am unable to see where God is active in and around me. Speaking personally, I view my refusal to spend time with God alone to start my day as an act of quenching the Spirit. I don’t want you to hear this as prescriptive or legalistic, but as an invitation to participate fully in the abundant life God intends for you.

I would challenge you this next week to try this a few times. Wake up early, grab some coffee and pray. This can take shape in a variety of ways. Here are some best practices I have found: 

  • Prayer Journal: write out the things you want to say to God and listen for His response. Test what you feel He is saying against Scripture and write it down so you can refer back to it throughout the day. Another helpful tool is to follow these four movements in prayer journalling: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. For more of a guide, click here: Need link to Friday morning prayer bulletin
  • Scripture: read a passage of scripture and pray it to God. Meditate on its truth throughout the day. The above passage is a good starting point, “Spirit, I desire to rejoice always. I am in a season of sadness and frustration. Would you replace it with your joy today?” 
  • Worship Music: turn on music that is worshipping God and join in. Reflect on the truth of the words and pray them to God, over your life or others that God places on your heart. King of My Heart by John Mark McMillan is a great song for this practice. Click here to listen.

My hope is that we would be a people that are abiding in the presence of Christ on a personal level, so that we might be able to discern His heart for us and those around us. When we pray, God listens and responds. We would also love to pray for you this week! Send us an email, or fill out a prayer card at any of our parishes this Sunday. 

Mike DeFrees, Midtown Parish Pastor


Upcoming Events

September 29th // Kids Dedication Class

October 1st // National Night Out

October 2nd // School of Theology Begins


School of Theology

School of Theology is a 5 week event held every Wednesday night in October at Aggie Park. This year we will focus on Dan White’s book, Love Over Fear. Each week will consist of both teaching and small group discussion. There are two registration options: $15 which includes only the book and materials or $40 which includes dinner each week as well as the book and materials. To register you can click here


Kids Dedication

The Park Kids Dedication service is about a commitment to put God first in your home and to trust in Him as your source of direction as you lead your family and parent your child. It is also a time to share with your closest friends, family and church community what is most important to you and to ask them for their prayer and support. Our next dedication service will be October 13th during the Sunday morning service. There is a required class prior to the service on September 29th 2-3:30 PM at the Impact Guild. If you would like to dedicate your child, or would like more information, click here.

Frequency = Formation

This past week I posted a short note on facebook about rainy days & holidays being the hardest days for church leaders.  My note continued something like this, “It is right and proper for everyone to enjoy vacations and holidays, but when you are gone realize the work of the setting up, sermon prep, music rehearsal still happens.” I received several messages, private and public as well as a good number of likes.  A few pastors even posted, “amen!” I’d like to extend on my facebook post with two thoughts. 

  1. My heart is not to bolster church attendance, but to say to each person in my community that you can not have spiritual formation without frequency.  Further, whatever you frequent will form you. I just finished watching the BBC Sherlock Series, Wow! It’s incredible, but because of the binge mode pacing I started looking at the world in a different way.  Sherlock formed something in me. Was it good? I’m not sure. In the same way when we frequent prayer, worship attendance, scripture study, and smaller groups for accountability they form us. While I am not sure about Sherlock, I know for certain those sacred rhythms will form us into the likeness of Christ. For those of you I have the great privilege of serving as your pastor please hear me, I desperately want you to be formed into the likeness of Christ. What you do and don’t do matters to me. 
  2. A strange thing happened after that post.  A few of you started to message me with words of encouragement.  A few of you gave me a heads up you will be out of town or that you are attending something else during the service time.  At first I felt strange about that and insisted there was no need to actually tell me what’s pulled you away. But the more I thought about it, I think that’s exactly what we should do.  Church is family, it requires encouragement and checking in. The more we are willing to share about one another the easier it is to pray. 

I’m not much for working out your feelings on Facebook, but this one instance spurred a number of interesting conversations.  Church attendance isn’t the most critical thing… but friends you need to have consistent rhythms for spiritual formation. Here’s a great article on spiritual formation by one of my heroes, Dallas Willard.  See you Sunday! 

Scott Austin

Upcoming Events

  • September 14th // Dinner for 8
  • September 29th // Kids Dedication Class
  • October 1st // National Night Out

Dinner for 8

There’s still time to register for a dinner group! These dinners are hosted in homes and happen a couple of times a year. They are critical to our parish life as they model hospitality. We invite everyone to attend for great food, conversation and overall connection to other people in our church. Dinner for 8 is Saturday, September 14th at 7 PM. To register for a dinner group you can click here.

School of Theology

School of Theology is a 5 week event held every Wednesday night in October at Aggie Park. This year we will focus on Dan White’s book, Love Over Fear. Each week will consist of both teaching and small group discussion. There are two registration options: $15 which includes only the book and materials or $40 which includes dinner each week as well as the book and materials. To register you can click here

The Exodus: Part II

Exodus 11:1 – 12:51

God supernaturally delivers His people out of Egypt and institutes Passover for the Israelite people. This ordinance serves as a reminder of God’s deliverance but embedded in the detailed instructions for proper observance projects a picture of what would ultimately be accomplished through the coming Messiah. Every step of this journey, God has been the pursuer. How should we respond? How does this apply to us?

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. If He pursued His people thousands of years ago, then He still pursues today. Our response should be an eagerness to follow.

Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours

These words are pulled from a decade-old song proclaiming the arrival of the Deliverer, Messiah, and Savior, and pleading for the ability to be like Him. This prayer requires two things of those who genuinely desire to become like Jesus: an intimate knowledge of God and an empathy for others.

Only a daily, personal relationship with that Messiah will allow us to truly know what grieves Him. Rhythms of regular study of the Bible and listening for the guidance of the Spirit open our hearts to His guidance. An effort to constantly be in an attitude of prayer not only completes a successful communication loop, but also promotes a healthy posture before God.

In our interactions with the world around us, it can be easy to think ourselves wise. How often do we consider that almost every person on the planet comes from a distinctly different set of circumstances than that of our own? How can we truly love a person that God has created (and knows everything about) if we are not willing to understand that person intimately? Let us earnestly desire to love our neighbors, our city, and our world by seeking to sincerely know them.


Upcoming Events

  • September 14th // Dinner for 8
  • September 29th // Kids Dedication Class
  • October 1st // National Night Out

Dinner for 8

There’s still time to register for a dinner group! These dinners are hosted in homes and happen a couple of times a year. They are critical to our parish life as they model hospitality. We invite everyone to attend for great food, conversation and overall connection to other people in our church. Dinner for 8 is Saturday, September 14th at 7 PM. To register for a dinner group you can click here.


School of Theology

School of Theology is a 5 week event held every Wednesday night in October at Aggie Park. This year we will focus on Dan White’s book, Love Over Fear. Each week will consist of both teaching and small group discussion. There are two registration options: $15 which includes only the book and materials or $40 which includes dinner each week as well as the book and materials. To register you can click here

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