Archive for prayer
For a number of reasons, I am in an extended period of deep introspection. While I think this is a good exercise from time to time, it can feel a little weird–at least it does for me.
During some times of solitude in the midst of travels this week, I have been meditating on 2 Timothy 3, especially the first 7 verses where Paul warned Timothy about some people that he would encounter. The list of attributes is downright awful. Paul included that some would be: brutal, treacherous, abusive, greedy, heartless, unappeasable. Paul warned about some who would take advantage of women, be burdened with sins, and overcome with uncontrollable passions. They would lack self control. Timothy was to avoid these ungrateful, unholy people. But of course. It only makes sense.
But in the whole of the letter and at several points in chapter 3, it seems that Paul was saying that these were people in the community or, to be more specific, people in the church. These are ones that had an appearance of godliness but denied its power. And then a conviction hit me with force…. What if that is me in some ways?
Now I don’t want to start bleeding all over blog posts here, but what could be worse than to be one who had an appearance of godliness all the while not experiencing His power? What, I wonder, could be more frightful than to be one who chose to follow Christ who does not fully trust Him? Profoundly convicted, I am certain this is me all the while that I am set on the course of mission with only a passing interest in prayer. This is me when I am seeking to bring about transformation while not begging him to transform others and to still be transforming me.
Paul’s list is terrible period. But it is frightful when I look honestly and see my picture there in too many of those descriptions.
God change me.
Creativity. Passion. Christ-centered. Prayer. Check it out…
ht: 24/7 prayer
Having just moved into the new place a couple of days ago, we are still settling, unpacking, cleaning, organizing, etc. But we took some time out this weekend to pray as a family in our home and out in our community. As we were walking along, something simple, yet beautiful happened.
My youngest daughter has been praying for a couple of years now thanking the Lord for such a wonderful day and usually praying that He would have a wonderful day as well. But as we walked along in our community praying for our neighbors, she began to pray that our neighbors would see Christ in us…that they would come to Him…that He would touch their lives.
It was a blessing for me to be walking along, holding her hand as we agreed in prayer for what God may do in our community. It was a blessing to see her self-focused prayers switch to be prayers about seeing God’s glory revealed so that those that are around us may come to Him. During this time she had learned something from me and I was learning something from her.
The industrial revolution changed our world forever. Factories produced more product out the back end of the assembly line than several individual shops had been able to manufacture collectively. This changed so much. Levels of income were impacted, work hours, education for a white collar group of people, urban shift began, etc. Industrialization also changed the church. Caring for the needy (among other things) became a process that mirrored the assembly line schematics. Roles were given and systems put in place to facilitate the church’s ability to meet the needs of the poor. And it was good.
Through collection of tithes and offerings, some of the budget is allocated to caring for the poor. With funds collected, some staff or lay people go with huge hearts to buy food to stock a food closet for the poor. When hungry families come to get food, they have a form to fill in, a meeting with a pastor to hear the gospel, and a bag of food. Then, their names are recorded to start the clock for them to be able to return for food in 1, 3, or 6 months time. Through this good, there is a way for the hungry to be fed and an opportunity for one or a select few to be about sharing the gospel.
It seems that so much less could be so much more at this point. Jesus speaks to His disciples about a day when He will separate the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. The distinction between the two that He gives in Matthew 25 is that some fed the hungry and clothed the naked while others did not. He speaks of a personal accounting here, not of the churched and the unchurched. The expectation is clear. It is a daily outworking of the Lordship of Christ that causes a person to see with His eyes of compassion. The ramifications are enormous. It is the difference between being blessed or cursed by God.
If instead of the needy waiting in an office to meet with someone to learn about God to then have their physical need met, what would it look like if a family seeking to follow Christ showed up with a hot meal at the home of the needy? Instead of a meal delivered it could be a meal served up personally or a meal shared. While obeying Christ’s command to feed the hungry, the disciple is also obeying the command to make disciples. What if the homeless was invited to dine in a restaurant with a disciple-maker and a disciple or two. Then after dinner, more food is given to the needy. And the family or group of disciples that began to bless continued the relationship and blessed further and helped and served. Further help may come about in the areas of helping the needy find work, manage finances, care for children, and in the process learn about the One who sends others to bless. In the realm of great discipleship, the church is released into the community to serve and bless others and carry the hope of Christ into families that desperately need it.
a little on money
Serving the poor in this way does not mean that church funds do not need to go to serving the poor anymore. There still will be issues far beyond what a family or two or three can meet. This could be assisted through funds from a larger church budget. The discipleship process could start with a stock of food that the pastoral staff gives to the disciples going to bless and form relationship and a time for them to pray together for wisdom and multiplication of the resources. However, when a family gets involved, things are different–especially when children participate. It has been my experience that the children will want to give some of their own food and money to meet the needs of those that they are serving. Discipleship is inevitable at this point. It is great…it cannot be easily stopped.
(In the excerpts from my non-book, Great to Good (G2g), truth or satire may be employed. At times, the two may even meet.)
Billboard ad for a church:
“Unlike any other church you have ever seen.”
Mega church pastor:
“Pray and ask God to do big things this weekend.”
Heard from multiple pastors:
It’s not the pastor’s job to win the lost. His role is to equip the believers.
“I don’t do lost people.”
(This is the second post of this type. See “Say what?” for more.)
Two men walked into a village to tell the people about the Savior. The peoples did not show any interest in believing or even seeking a full understanding of the story. One villager told the men that here they worshipped the spirits, but if their God is so powerful, then they should have Him make the tree where the spirits dwell to fall over.
With the conversation over, the two men began to pray early in the day for this very thing to happen. At noon, they continued praying on the edge of the village, close to the tree. In the evening, they continued praying. Throughout the night, they continued praying. Just before dawn a few villagers began to stir outside. They turned as they heard cracking sounds begin. The tree began to move as it cracked and popped with force. Then in a swift motion it crashed down into the village. Immediately the villagers came running to see what had happened to the tree where they had previously felt compelled to worship the spirits. Seeing the power of “the God,” they heard the story and many believed.
Today, whether living in a post-Christian, animistic, or other context, there is a deep and abiding reality that we would do well to remember:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
We must increase our efforts in prayer. I must pray more than ever before. May we:
Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Happy New Year! Let’s roll….
From time to time I will be posting original writings of guests from around the world. In this second guest post, Bob Royce, a missionary / church planter in Ontario shares a story that contrasts African and Western discipleship. For the past six years, Bob and his family have been missionaries in the Toronto area–one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Their heart is for awakening and revival at McMaster University and beyond. They have also been involved internationally in SE Asia, Pakistan, Kenya and other places as well. Thanks Bob!
Our family has enjoyed being involved in Kingdom work both in the States, around the world in places like Russia, SE Asia, Pakistan and Kenya, and have lived for the past 6 years in one of the most cosmopoitan cities in the world…Toronto. People from all over the world are here.
Our heart is for awakening and revival beginning with university students and then spreading out from there. At one of our home meetings this summer, we enjoyed getting to know a girl from Zimbabwe who just finished her first year in university.
She shared part of her story with us that night and that she was a follower of Christ when she arrived here. I asked her, “So would you say you have grown spiritually or shriveled some since you arrived here?” She admitted/confessed that her walk with the Lord had suffered. She said back home that they use to have all night prayers, and fasting was a regular part of their walk. Since coming to North America, it has been hard for her to grow because not many Christians are hungry and everything here is easy….
I had a sinking feeling that was going to be her answer. Friends, our brothers and sisters from around the world are anchored in a Kingdom reality that we know very little about. What if we discovered that we also need to be on the receiving end of missionary work…not just sending folks out? Something to prayerfully ponder….