Saturday, October 28, 2006

Harvest Prayer Ministries Regional Conference

Ever since I began reading some of the books of Dr. Henry Blackaby I have treasured the thought of one day having him come and teach at our church. That dream was realized this week! Dr. Blackaby was here as the main speaker for a prayer conference that we partner with several other ministries to put on each year.

The experience of sitting under his teaching was amazing. The thing about Henry isn't his flashy style or his charismatic personality, it is his authority with which he speaks. He is authentic and real in his teaching on prayer and its value and virtual life giving power to people and congregations. His message is radical and convicting because of the obvious flow from God's Word.

This kind of teaching is as "prophetic" as I have ever experienced. It is so in the true sense of the word. It is the voice of God speaking through his servant. It is a life giving word and a life challenging word. You can't just hear it, you must respond to it. It is hard to call it "good teaching." It is "sword" teaching, dividing your heart and mind with truth and power.

I don't want to be freaky, but the mysterious presence of God was in this place! God is always around us, don't get me wrong, but at times he is "near" and so very real. Isaiah the prophet said that when those moments come you don't want to miss them. (Is. 55:6) I am so glad I didn't miss the nearness of God in these days.

The obvious, but not so obvious to some, visual things were present. The altars were full, there were tears and crying out to God, there were people confessing sin, making commitments to be watchman on the walls and many begging God to "lay his heart on their hearts" so they could intercede more effectively for people and our nation. There was praise, there was prayer, there was some deep fellowship among people from many different denominations and spiritual heritages. Wow! It was a real God moment!

I must say that the one real conviction that came my way was this. You have what you pray.

For your family, our church, your city, and your nation. God is always looking for that one person who will humbly seek his intervention in the lives of people. A stand in the gap kind of person. Weak pitiful praying yields pathetic results.

“The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows,
turned back on the day of battle;
they did not keep God’s covenant
and refused to live by his law.
They forgot what he had done,
the wonders he had shown them.”
(Psa 78:9-11 NIV)

This passage went right to my heart! Being ready and equipped is one thing, failing to be obedient, not keeping my covenant promise and not making God famous are completely different things!

I might say, we have not because we have lived not! Forgive us Father! As leaders in your Kingdom, forgive our faithlessness and our arrogant disobedience of your revealed will.

I know that many of the pastors who gathered at Maryland Community Church have vowed to challenge and call their leaders to a more active and obedient life! We must pray the price and stand in the gap for all that is precious to God.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I have been reading a book about missional leaders over a break. Like any good book it is both reinforcing in what I believe and at the same time challenging what I believe. I am sure you have read books like that or watched movies that did the same thing.

Here is a quote that really hit home; "We can see this phenomenon of making private need paramount in the increasing number of people who make it known that the forms of life in a particular congregation are no longer enough for them. As a result, they seek another congregation that will satisfy their needs. To them, it is vividly clear that the public gathering of the people of God has a single, primary purpose: meeting the private, personal needs of each individual member." p. 68 The Missional Leader

My down to earth theology knows that usually people go at their particular circumstance from one of two equally valid and important truths. 1) God is holy and all powerful, 2) God became flesh and suffered just like me. You can word those in many different ways of course.

It seems that many congregations, followers of Jesus, sufffer at times from an over emphasis on #2. They see everything through the lense of "how will that help me?" If it doesn't then I will change churches, pastors, leaders, cities, countries, religions.

If there isn't something bigger and more important than me in my circumstance then I have to do whatever it takes to alter my circumstance.

What if there was something bigger and more important than you? What if it was more important than your circumstance? For some that is even hard to imagine let alone believe.

For true followers of Jesus we know who and what is more important. Jesus is more important and His Kingdom is greater than mine! Without this focus I will never believe that God's desires would ever trump mine or that his power is greater than mine.

We live in such a winner take all world that the idea of staying with anything that is perceived as being inferior or a loser is quite distasteful. Shouldn't I move on? Shouldn't I go with the winner?

The Kingdom of God doesn't always look like a winner or being superior. That is why Jesus looked and sounded like such a fool in his day. He still does in our day to a large extent.

Pretty soon we will have 300,000,000 churches in America. In case you didn't know; one for every person. Sad isn't it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I attended a pastors gathering at Mt. Pleasant UMC last night that was truly amazing! The group represented were among the United Methodists, Southern Baptists, Assemblies, Independent Pentecostal, Church of Christ Non-Instrumental and Messianic.

We gathered for fellowship and then to watch a documentary of the revival in Fiji produced by the Sentinel group. It was an amazing story of revival among a nation that had been racked by political and racial uproar for many years.

The gist of things was desperation with circumstances, prayerful repentance, efforts at reconciliation both racially and denominationally and political action. There was an amazing turnaround in the whole nation socially, economically and geographically. There truly was an answer to II Chronicles 7:14!

As we talked about this and how it impacted us, it became very clear that we too wanted such things for our city, state and nation. Our small gathering every Tuesday morning for 16 years has increasingly grown in numbers of pastors and intensity for revival. We certainly are not as desperate as we could be or should be, but we are getting there! Our prayer is not yet as fervent as it could be or should be, but we are getting there!

One things has become increasingly more apparent. We are united around Jesus Christ and the truth of the Word of God. Denominational ties are being broken. Personal agendas set aside. There is more and more a visible city-wide church! Oh how I long for this to increase!

Pastors praying together, worshiping together and then working together is amazing! I believe it will make an impact in our city. These three things are the key to proactive city-wide ministry; prayer, worship and service.

We will be reading and studying revival more and meeting again in a month; Nov. 27th.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Both of our Days of Vision for EPIC and Exchange are now complete! How exciting to share what God is doing at Maryland Community Church. Our two communities are unique methods of reaching various as many people as we can. I am constantly amazed at how two different environments can reach different people for many different reasons.

I am excited to see what God is going to do through our multiple environments over the next few years. The Blessed Life series that Scot Longyear, pastor of Exchange, and I have been teaching from materials from Robert Morris have been great tools for helping both communities come to grips with putting first things first in our lives. Our financial resources are one of the litmus tests to our heart condition. I know God is continuing to search our hearts to see if we will be faithful and responsible with all the many talents and resources he has given this great church.

I would challenge all our followers of Jesus to pray hard on how they can respond on November 19th. This Sunday is a crucial moment in the life of Maryland Community Church. Our commitments to tithing and extra giving are of immence importance and we look to the future. Let's IMAGINE together what God can do through us!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Love Languages

Sandy and I are anxiously waiting to see what God will do with our series on the "Five Love Languages."

Love is a big deal to us! We love God with all our heart and try very hard to love each other as Christ has loved us. Needless to say this has been a journey of many years; 37 to be exact!

Love is the real heart of marriage. It is a language that God has used to communicate his relationship with his people down through the ages. It was an epic description of the relationship of Jesus and the Church. Jesus the groom and the Church the bride. Ephesians 5 is the classic biblical text for the love of man and woman; Christ and the Church.

Come join us at Maryland Community Church, 4700 S. St. Rd. 46 in Terre Haute, IN and see what the Lord is saying to you about these two major relationships. Begins Sunday Oct. 8 and goes through Sunday Nov. 5; 10 am.