To pray or not to pray

Thursday was set aside for 12 hours of prayer with different leaders hosting each hour. During an hour hosted by our intern Yosef he played a song with a short clip of a John Piper sermon. The message declared that no pain that we have ever experienced is without purpose or meaning. God is working in us deliberately an eternal weight of glory. That thought requires deep meditation.

A friend of mine is a pastor at a church which has a prayer meeting every night of the week with Friday as a loud and long one. I confessed that while our church has built a healthy multi-cultural community, our prayer times together are still weak. They are building their church on prayer with 20% growth every year and new believers every week.

Today was an effort to say that it is time to reaffirm that only the Spirit of God does the real work in transforming dead hearts, blind eyes, deaf ears and numb minds. In pastor Tim Keller’s book on Prayer his wife used a story to get him to realize the seriousness of prayer. Here is what she said,

“Imagine you were diagnosed with such a lethal condition that the doctor told you that you would die within hours unless you took a particular medicine – a pill every night before going to sleep. Imagine that you were told that you could never miss it or you would die. Would you forget? Would you not get around to it some nights? No – it would be so crucial that you would not forget, you would never miss. Well, if we don’t pray together to God, we’re not going to make it because of all we are facing. I’m certainly not. We have to pray, we can’t let it just slip our minds.”

Does that illustration speak to you? Do you really believe prayer is that essential? Maybe your response and mine shows a lot more about what is happening in our life than we realize.

A Question !

Happy New Year. A question to start us off. Is there a parallel between the physical and spiritual climates in our country? A few days ago the warmest place in Canada at 3 degrees celsius was still colder than many other countries have ever experienced. For example, Taiwan, Indonesia, Cuba, the Philippines and Jamaica have never been that cold – ever.

Does our weather drive us indoors and inside ourselves? It often impacts attendance at Sunday services. What motivates us to snuggle back in for more rest, choose alternate activities, or head out to connect again with the body of Christ? Has the coolness outside impacted us inside?
Faith’s mission is to make disciples of all nations – all generations in all nations. The influx of nations into our church has kept it vibrant, active, loving and inviting. However, we live in a time and place where surveys show that the love of many toward Christ and his church has grown cold.
My question? Is it the weather or something else.

Daring to faith it

Today’s rising generation in our church needs the courage of Daniel and the daring of David to
embrace a faith that is rapidly falling out of favor with their peers. It’s no longer uncommon for
even church goers to go for weeks or months without considering what the Bible has to say
toward the situations and relationships they are dealing with.
Many millenials state openly they no longer believe that any of the religious texts which have
been guides to other generations and other nations have any value or relevance for today. None
of them are better than another.
Churches have tried to spin out more apps and digital resources, podcasts and YouTube
presentations, blogs, websites, Facebook and twitter posts, Instagram, Snapchat and other social
media in an effort to entice the next generation toward the faith. Even all this has limited
response.
And yet, these rising generations which are sloughing off the practices, traditions and even
beliefs of established institutional churches, have a deep curiosity about what is authentic,
meaningful and transformative.
The big thing they desire is to belong in the story we embrace. They don’t just want to hear it.
They want to live it. That’s all about relationship across generations and across nations. They
want to be welcomed, listened to, shared with, appreciated. They want to engage in hospitality
around tables and circles where they can experience belonging.
There’s been enough modeling of what doesn’t work and what doesn’t change our world. This
new generation is looking for something that speaks to their heart, their hands and their hopes.
They need space and opportunity to wrestle with the declarations, demands and diverse teaching
of Scripture.
Our church’s established members need daring faith to encourage those who are embracing
the truths we have held closely for so long. I’m encouraged to see how these next opportunities
will show themselves in our community and in our city.
In the first message after Jesus’ triumphant death, resurrection, ascension and birth of the church,
Peter quotes Joel’s hopeful declaration: “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons
and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream
dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days
and they will prophesy.”
Together, across generations, we have a daring faith to embrace, live out and share. If the rising
generations are going to find their place in God’s story then those of us who have walked it for a
while need to constantly welcome them into the journey.