My oldest daughter was about 6 years old, playing on the floor with a church friend of the same age. My youngest, Ashley, was three. She was excluded from their game. Chutes and Ladders was too complicated for her, they thought. But she could count, and proved it to them, so they let her in.
After a few plays they called to me. “Daddy, you want to play with us?” I guessed the door had been opened to outsiders, so I left my book on the dining table and headed to the contest.

My youngest was being bratty. Every time she would climb a ladder, she’d chant in a sing-song, “Na na nuh na na, I’m gonna win.” The others rolled their eyes.
Chutes and Ladders is a tricky game. In just a few spins, the little taunter hit a couple of slides and fell back, and Daddy hit a couple of ladders. And just like that, I won the game.

Without thinking, I chanted in her sing-song, “Na na nuh na na, I won the game!” And suddenly, without warning, she exploded in rage, jumped to her tiny feet, and yelled, “Well I coulda won if it hadna been for my stoopid daddy!” And then she turned and ran to her room.

The three of us were shocked. I didn’t know what to do. Meekly I whispered to the two girls, “Keep playing. I’m going to sit out for a while.” And then I went back to the table and my book.
Quite simply, I didn’t know how to respond. She’d never called me stupid. I had not seen that kind of rage in her. I felt partly guilty because I goaded her, but she had been doing the same. I imagined what my father might have done to me if I had ever called him stupid. But I elected to just keep reading my book.

After a while, I was aware of timid little steps behind my chair. I sensed her. She didn’t speak. Momentarily I turned around to face her. Her little body was in complete surrender. Her arms hung limp at her chubby little sides, her head hung down. She wouldn’t look up. She knew she was in for it, and she had come meekly to get it.
“Do you want something?” I asked. She never looked up.

“I sawwy, Daddy.” A tiny tear fell.

I opened my knees and pulled her into my chest and just hugged her. The other little girls were watching. I whispered in her ear, “It’s okay. I’m sorry, too. I shouldn’t have teased you.” And then we just hugged for while. After moments, I said, “We gonna be okay?”

“Yep.”

“Want to go back and play?”

“Uh huh.”
So I let her go. As she turned, heart all healed, tension all gone, I reached toward her and caught her attention. She froze for second. “Hey,” I whispered, “You don’t really think I’m stoopid, do you?”
Her face screwed up for a second, and then, “Sometimes!” And she was gone. Before I could backhand her across the room, she was playing again.

I spun back around to the table and laid my head in the crook of my arm. I was having a moment, and I needed to have it privately.

“God,” I whispered, “I wish I could know that you love me like I love my kids. I love my kids even when they’re brats.” And in one of those rare moments of life, I heard God whisper back in my ear, as I had in hers, “Where do you think you learned to love? I don’t love you ’cause you’re good; I love you ’cause you’re mine.”

My father was a simple man who offered simple solutions to problems. When I was a teenager and trying to be a good Christian, I would ask his help with some problem, and more often than not his advice would simply be: “Why don’t you just pray about it?”

That would be it. Just pray. I saw that as a cop-out, an unwillingness to hammer out the details of a resolution. As a result, I probably over-reacted the opposite direction. I tried to resolve all conflicts. I tried to figure out the complex issues, and talk for hours. In the long run, prayer became a “last resort” for me. If all else fails, then I’ll pray about it. But for my dad, prayer had always been a “first resort.”

I wish I had learned from him a little earlier.

Along the way I’ve accidentally discovered the power of prayer.

It would take too long to list the many opportunities I’ve had to discover the value of prayer, but it is necessary that I tell at least one.

In Vietnam, I had my first bout with fear and depression after about 8 months in the country. My fiancee had dropped me, and my family was going through a huge crisis, and I was out of touch, unable to call home and communicate. And remember, I liked to talk things out and work out long resolutions. The helpless and hopeless feelings slowly drove me into a deep despair, and one day I simply walked away from my duty post without explanation. My commanding officer saw me and yelled at me, but I waved him off, telling him I couldn’t function. I wandered aimlessly, then wound up at my hooch, and fell across my cot. Still didn’t pray though. For a long time I just lay on my face and tried to think things through. There had to be a solution. I just couldn’t see it yet. Finally, in complete, silent helplessness I just leaned back on my knees and stretched one hand toward heaven, with my eyes closed tightly.

When I did, one of my buddies had apparently been watching me over the plywood divider between our cots, and he actually reached down and gripped my hand. I flushed with embarrassment, and wondered which of my friends was so ignorant that he would do this to me.

I kept my eyes closed tightly while I counted to 10, trying to think of a comment I could make that would get us past this awkward moment. Finally I decided I would just look at him and say, “You nut, what are you doing?” and see how he responded.

So I took a breath, and opened my eyes. To my surprise, no one was there. No one gripped my hand, although I had felt it squeeze, and squeezed it back. And even now, looking up, I felt the hand in mine, though none was there.

Chills raced up my spine. I was shocked for a moment, and then I heard the kindest voice whisper, “If you’ll just hold to this hand, I’ll work out everything back home, and everything in your life.”
I fell across my bed, and now the dam burst. I wept, over and over. But it was good weeping. I was consoled. I understood that life and its problems were not always in my hand to resolve. I could “just pray,” and know that there was a Friend listening, and He could work things out.

Are you holding His hand?

Not sure? Just pray. You’ll know.

Dave and I lost touch with each other after I left my first pastorate. He worked at the same engineering company I worked for. He had been a nice man, not always agreeing with my religious side of “coffee break discussions,” but never was rude like some were.
When I moved away, I lost ties to my former friends. So when my phone rang 20 years later and a husky voice on the other end asked, “Are you the Danny Carpenter that used to work in Dallas?” I was blown away. It was Dave.
It turns out Dave had converted after I moved away. Married, had a kid, and was now, 20 years later, a Sunday School teacher. And on Sunday his pastor had challenged members to remember the person or people who had impacted them for Christ, and find them to say “Thank you.” So Dave was calling me to thank me. Twenty years ago, he said, I made a lasting impression on him. It was a humbling moment.
After we hung up, I began to reflect on my own mentors. Men who had shaped my life. There were two men who made a huge impact on me. One was the principal of my 7th and 8th grade years. Harold Lichtenwald, principal of Sidney Lanier, took me under his wing and helped me. Saved me. One of the greatest men I’ve ever known.
The other was Fred Gregory, my high school drafting teacher. One of a kind. Cared about his students’ futures, not their grades. He showed me that character was more important than skill. And he helped me long after high school.
I decided to look them up. Mr. Gregory was easy. He still lived in the same house in Mesquite. I phoned him, and wrote a column about him in the local newspaper. My way of saying thanks.
Mr. Lichtenwald was a little harder to find. When I did, he was dying in a nursing home in Dallas. Parkinson’s, diabetes, and something else. But I walked in his room unannounced, and he asked, “Are you looking for someone?”
“You,” I said. “I’m a voice from your past.”
He smiled. “How far back?”
“Sidney Lanier,” I said, knowing he’d never guess. But to my surprise, he teared up and said, “Danny Carpenter.” I couldn’t believe it. He cried a while, and then, embarrassed, told me he couldn’t move his arms, and he could really use help with his running nose and eyes. It was my privilege.
I loved those two men. And I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they loved me, too. Mr. Lichtenwald passed away a year after I found him. Mr. Gregory just passed away a day after this past Christmas.
I am glad I found them. I’m glad I thanked them before they slipped away.
Who do you need to find? Find ’em. And thank them.
You’ll be glad you did.

President Obama tried to be coy when he admonished Christians by asking which Christianity we should choose: “James Dobson’s Christianity; or Al Sharpton’s?” You mean they’re different? Maybe a better comparison would have been: “James Dobson’s, or Jeremiah Wright’s?”
But the truth is, if they’re both following Christ, and lifting Him up as Lord Almighty, then the chances are they’re both in the “body of Christ.” And the “body” has many members: eyes, ears, noses, feet… you get the picture. What part of the body is your church?
If you practice the analogy given in I Corinthians 12, you’ll have to learn to accept people of differing denominations. Our faith is still in the Lord Jesus. Be we have different functions in His body.
The apostle Paul pictures a body’s members arguing with themselves. The ear “looks” at the eye (since it has no eye, I don’t know how) and it says, “I must not be in the body, ’cause I’m not like the eye.” I don’t know how it spoke, since it has no mouth. But Paul must have been having fun trying to point out the damage done when Christian churches downplay other churches, or outright condemn them, because of denominational doctrinal differences.
Truthfully, most denominations developed doctrines of exclusivism. Such singular doctrines were essential, in the minds of the founding fathers, to preserve the uniqueness. And today, although many modern pastors may quibble privately at their own denomination’s staunch preservation of its “preservation doctrines,” they won’t do so publically.
Paul was clear about the reason we need to accept each other, even though we are dramatically different. Christ prayed that all who “believe” in Him “may be as one” (John 17:20-22). And when Paul wrote his clever piece in I Corinthians 12 about the “body” being comprised of many completely different parts, he declared that there should be “no schism in the body” (vs25).
So whether your church is the eye, or the ear, or the nose… or maybe the knee… the point is that you should simply be gald to be who you are, and not look disdainfully at other churches that you don’t understand or agree with. If they worship the Lord Jesus Christ, and they’ve received the revelation that He is Lord, they are His. And so are you. So rejoice and be happy in your faith. And let the “eye” do the same.

I have noticed that a number of radio or television ministers are speaking about America’s need for a revival.  Sometimes it is a genuine call from ministers who are agonizing over the demise of godliness in America, and sometimes it is simply a “get on the bandwagon” response to what’s current.

At any rate, the troubling thing about the call to Revival is that it is so “corporate.”  It is not directed at us individually, but at America generally.  And that’s the rub, so to speak.

As long as we sit silently by, lending our “Amen!” to a stirring sermon, then hurrying to dinner, and hurrying home to grab the remote and watch our nightly nonsense, and then spending six days away from church, and from our devotional sense of God, then revival will not come to America.

Because revival must be an individual thing.  I… YOU… WE must have revival.  We must examine ourselves.  We must pray. We must repent. We must change.  We must intercede.  We.  Not America.  Not them. Not those “cold” churches.   We. 

I love preaching to others.  I hate preaching to me.  I love trying to change the guy going the wrong way.  I hate trying to change my own habits, and trying to break out of my complacency.  Sometimes the tide has to turn against us before we get serious about changing.  And that being said, perhaps the greatest indication that revival is possible in America is the obvious media turn against Christianity.

The media was not really mean to Rev. Jeremiah Wright for his anti-America “God-d*** America” sermon.  Not really.  But have you see the vitriolic response of some to Brit Hume’s comments to Tiger Woods about finding Christ?

Forget revival coming to America.  Pray for revival to come to you.  If enough of “you” and “I” can genuinely have a revival of faith and character and courage, then it will automatically come to our “land.”    (2 Chron. 7:14)

Who are volunteers?

Grace volunteers are members of the church who work together to serve others in the community and advance the Kingdom for Jesus.

How do I volunteer at Grace?

Become a member of the church, check out the volunteer teams below, and complete the Volunteer application form below so we can know a little bit more about you and what ministry you are interested in being a part of. You can also find out more about Grace’s volunteer opportunities by emailing info@graceistheplace.com.

What opportunities are available?

Grace has six areas of ministry that are made up of multiple volunteer teams who serve on Sundays and during the week. Sign up for one of the teams below and someone will contact you about your next step.

Gatekeeper Family at the front doorGatekeepers: Guest Services

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Gatekeepers teams love creating welcoming environments for every guest at Grace.

Sermon Illustration VideoCreative & Technical Arts

From operating cameras and sound to trouble-shooting computer issues, the Creative and Technical Arts teams use their skills in media production and technology to keep Grace Christian Family Center on the cutting edge.

Compassionate Care & Outreach

Compassionate Care & Outreach teams serve people in need of love and support through everything from prayer and encouragement to community projects.

Girl Colors in Kids Kan ClassChildren’s Ministry

Children’s Ministry teams exist to unveil God’s love to the children and families of Grace Christian Family Center. Volunteers serve on Sunday mornings with 6-week olds to 5th graders or during the week by following up with first time guests.

Youth Class Close-UpYouth Ministry

This ministry is for volunteers who have a heart to see High School and Middle School students grow and fall in love with Jesus daily. Youth Ministry teams serve during the Wednesday night student gathering.

[contact-form 1 “Volunteer”]

About Pastor Carpenter

100_7615

Rev. Danny Carpenter has been pastor at GRACE since 1979.

While in Cu Chi, Viet Nam during a thirteen month tour of duty, he established an interdenominational chapel service. Returning to the states, he traveled extensively for two years, speaking in churches and on campuses.

He and his wife Sandi established a church in 1973 near Dallas, Texas.

He has coauthored several books, was a writer for a publishing company, had an anecdotal newspaper column, a monthly column in a minister’s periodical, and has sold dozens of short stories and articles.

He directed and hosted a half hour Christian variety show for television.

He has trained thousands of managers and employees nationwide in the art of people skills and management and mentoring techniques through one of America’s largest seminar training companies.

He has written and continues to teach seminars on marriage and relationships.

His practical and down-to-earth style of preaching, and his wit and humor, make every Sunday service uplifting and refreshing.

This is church like you always knew it could be.

Rev. Carpenter is proudest of his two daughters and sons-in-law who are active in church ministry, and his three beautiful grandchildren, Mason, Hudson, and Grayden.

Grace Drama

Grace Christmas Production

Save the drama for your mama…or just join Grace’s drama ministry.  Our drama ministry allows a creative way to deliver God’s word in a very relatable way.  Whether it is a Christmas production or Sunday morning skit, serious or humorous, the drama ministry is for anyone with a flair for the dramatic centered around a passion for others to know God.

Youth Drama Production

We are currently preparing for our annual Christmas production. If you are interested in being involved, contact ajensen@graceistheplace.com or areinke@graceistheplace.com.

Welcome to GraceKidz!

We are so excited that you have decided to join us in our journey of faith through God’s Word!  If you are not yet a part of our innovative Sunday morning classes, we invite you to consider making us a part of your week!

Here at Grace, we consider children to be our hope for the future.  They are the next generation of leaders, disciples, and carriers of the Truth.  This is why we put tremendous importance on guiding them through the classic stories of the Old Testament, instilling in them the truth and relevance of the New Testament, and leading them towards a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!

Our teachers teach because they value children and they desire to impart God’s wisdom to them.  They are trained, willing, and eager to encourage, instruct, and assist parents in guiding our future leaders. We have classes for all ages two through high school.  Parents can enjoy Sunday School in the adult class while their children embark on a weekly trip through the Bible.

Across the age groups, we study relevant topics every week.  Each class is age-suited and packed full of activities that reiterate the Bible lesson.

Grace will always take our job of ministering to tomorrow’s leaders very seriously!  We welcome and encourage all children to be a part of our Sunday School “family”!

In His Service,


Tara Moran
Sunday School Principal

Worship Service Childcare: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

GraceCare

Our Nursery is lovingly attended every Sunday morning during our 10:30 am – 12:00 pm worship service. Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come unto me.”  He valued even the youngest among us and so do we at Grace. While you worship, let your children be well attended by our trained, consistent Nursery Caregivers. Each child is assigned a number that is used to notify parents, if needed, on the media screen during service.

Boy plays with car in Kids Kan Class

J.A.M (Jesus and Me)

Calling all “jammers”  ages 2 – Kindergarten to come and see that “Jesus loves the little children!” Come jam with us!  We will sing, play, create, and explore as we learn about Jesus and God’s Word! A “unique” worship service for young children to enjoy while parents worship in the Sanctuary! JAM’s movers and shakers are entertained during the 10:30 am – 12:00 am Worship Service by caring, qualified leaders and fun-loving assistants.

Sunday School Classes: 9:30 am – 10:15 am

ADVENTURERS:  2 years through Pre-K

Girl Colors in Kids Kan Class

These are our little explorers!  They learn through stories, songs, play, and hands-on activities. At this age, life is an adventure and we desire for God’s Word to be a huge part of that adventure.  The Bible instructs us in Proverbs 22:6,  to “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  What a beautiful promise!  What better time to begin training a child than at this tender age!  It is our goal to help you as parents create the desire in your young Adventurers to always continue their adventure with Christ!

ROYALTY:  Kindergarten through 2nd graders

K-2nd Class

Yes, we have “royalty” here at Grace!  These are our princes and princesses, our lords and ladies, our kings and queens in His Kingdom!  This room, complete with castle decor, is filled each Sunday with young people who are finding out that we all are, as His word says in Psalm 139:14, “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  We are children of the King, adopted into His family and that makes us all Royalty!  What a beautiful gift from God we are giving these young future leaders when we encourage them in the truth and knowledge that they are His children!  It is our goal to help you as parents show these princes and princesses just how truly special and important they are in the Kingdom of God!

DISCOVERERS:  Third through Sixth graders

3rd-6th Grade Girls

Truth is a beautiful gift meant to be discovered through God’s Word!  These elementary students are at an age of discovery!  They are finding out who they are and who they want to become!  We strive to help them discover Jesus Christ personally, to discover that they want Him to be the biggest part of who they are and who they want to become!  The Bible instructs us in Psalm 34:8, to “taste and see that the Lord is good!”  It is our desire for them to discover how to “taste” and always hunger for more of Christ!  Our goal is to help you as parents guide them faithfully in the greatest discovery of their lives, the living Word of God!

EXTREME EXECUTIVES:  Seventh through Twelfth graders

Youth Class Listening

Junior High and High School are some of the greatest years in the life of a young person, but they can also be some of the most trying and difficult years amongst peers who don’t always understand them, teachers who don’t always care, and a host of people who they feel can’t relate to them.  We strive to equip our young people to take charge of their lives by teaching them the Word of God and by leading them towards a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!  We call them Extreme Executives because we want them to feel the power and boldness of Executives!  The Bible teaches us through Philippians 4:13, that we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” us.  Wow!  What a promise!  We are not limited by our own insecurities and inabilities, but we are empowered through Christ in all things!  It is our desire to help you as parents “empower” your “Executive” by teaching the truth and promises of God’s Word and revealing the relevance of His word in their lives today!