Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Prayer Walk

Did you ever wonder why compassion commercials are on so often? The statistics show, we are more moved by what we see than we are by what we hear. Similarly,it is better to be out among the people we are praying for than to sit in our building praying for faceless, hypothetical or generalized people.

Do you know that there are people digging through the dumpsters in your town trying to find anything they can use, sell or even eat? It is amazing how God can break your heart for people when you actually see their needs. Child abuse, spousal abuse, human trafficking, sexual abuse, drug use, alcoholism, depression, overwhelming grief, anger - your community has its share of these things among them on a daily basis. It is different walking by a house and hearing the screams of domestic disturbances than it is praying about it from the church without definite knowledge that it is happening.

This is the reason we are beginning to join people all over the country in doing prayer walks through our community. God works through prayer. Where two or three gather in His Name, He is in their midst and when they agree together in prayer, He honors their efforts. This we know.

So, what would it take to get you to go out and pray in public? Not putting on a show or drawing attention to yourself, but praying, none-the-less. What would it cost you? What might happen? Does it matter? Will you do it?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Miracles and the Gospel

We began a study on 1 Corinthians in our church at the beginning of September. We have been addressing the wisdom of God. Paul says he didn't come to the people of Corinth with "eloquent speech or human wisdom", but with nothing more than the message of Christ and Him crucified. The convincing factor was not the great arguments he made or the apologetics of the day, but the Holy Spirit making the truth clear, and the miraculous signs that accompanied the message.

We now live in a post-Christian era. People have heard about Jesus, experienced the church in one form or another, and have been left unimpressed. Even worse, many have left hurt, broken and demoralized. Their experience with the church has not been miraculous, it has been disasterous. And all the "positive-thinking" you aim at them with your motivational speeches and emotion-bending stories will not bring them into the shadow of the church, again.

It is time for the church to grab hold of the power of God, again. Jesus gave us the "Great Commission" sandwiched between these two thoughts: 1) All power in heaven and earth has been given to me; and 2) I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

We celebrate numeric growth in our own church while the church down the street dies in our shadow. And no one was saved today. Our baptismals are dry and cracked, but who would know? We haven't opened them up in years. Our Sunday Schools are dying because we don't think they are viable methods of discipleship any longer, so we gave up on them. Meanwhile, the Small Group ministries we raplaced them with are becoming a source of controversy about cliques and exclusion instead of love and inclusion. And another lost person who visited us as a "last chance" for hope just left for the last time today. She won't be back, but at least we averaged more this month than we did last month and our giving is still paying the bills.

Is the church really experiencing the effects of "All power in heaven and earth" being "with us"? Are we "displaying the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authority in the heavenly realms (Eph. 3:10)?" What happened to the power of God and the miraculous signs that accompany the spreading of the gospel?

There are a few things that need to happen for us to return to the powerful gate-crashing force that rescues people from hell, knowing no power can stand against the church when we are bring the church!

1. PRAY!
2. HAVE FAITH IN GOD! - Heb. 11:6
4. OBEY!

I hope to address each of these items in the next few blogs. I cannot go on watching for the latest fad to drive me for a while until I realize it leaves people empty. The truth is simple: The world is lost, and will be lost forever, if we don't start calling on the One Who wields "All power in heaven and earth"; Who also, by the way, came to seek and to save that which was lost!