Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Holy Spirit ... In You!

The Message

The Friend
Expanded Passage: John 13-15

John 14:15-17
“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and He’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take Him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see Him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know Him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!”

Because this passage is about the Holy Spirit, ask Him to guide you in a prayerful reading of it. Make your reading a prayer in itself.

The Holy Spirit is the most neglected personhood of God. We often treat the Spirit like a tagalong part of the Trinity. Yet Jesus promises to leave his disciples (and us as his followers) with this important Friend. Is it hard for you to imagine that the Holy Spirit is offered to you as a friend? Why or why not?

What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit in you and guiding you throughout your day, as this passage says: “But you know Him already because He has been staying with you, and will even be in you”? Is it comforting? Discomforting? Frustrating? Hard to comprehend? Awe-inspiring? How can you grow today in awareness that the Friend lives in you?

Ask the Holy Spirit, your Friend, to remind you of his presence. Pray the words of this Scripture, asking him to “make everything plain to you” (verse 26) and reminding you of all things that Jesus told the disciples (and you).

As you drive, walk, work, study, and interact with others today, call on your Friend for his guidance with the thoughts you think, the words you speak, and the decisions you make.

Taken from The Message//REMIX: Solo by Eugene H. Peterson

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why Are Pastors Reluctant to Lead in Prayer?

"The devil does not have to destroy a pastor;
he simply
needs to distract a pastor."

Why Church Leaders Remain in Their Prayer Closets

In my book Fresh Encounters, I wrote extensively about these issues based on my own struggle in prayer and conversations with many pastoral colleagues. As I see it, our reluctance to lead our churches in prayer is rooted in the eight following factors:

Rugged individualism – Perhaps the defining characteristic of Western Civilization is rugged individualism. Professor and Pastor Gene Getz notes that our “lens” of individualism causes us to re-interpret the prayer commands in the New Testament, making them individual in application when they were really given in a community context in the early churches, and applied accordingly. Today, we can easily conclude that it is sufficient simply to pray in an individual setting.

Closet Confusion – We have misunderstood the meaning of the place of prayer in Matthew 6 where Jesus is giving group instructions to His disciples about their prayer lives.===>Click headline for complete article . . .

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Sing Your Prayer

Psalm 42:8 (Contemporary English Version)

8Every day, you are kind,

and at night

you give me a song

as my prayer to you,

the living LORD God.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Are We Praying With the Wrong Question?

JOURNAL ENTRY~November 11, 1989-Thoughts are beginning to come about messages I’m to give on prayer. It will be a call to know the mind of Christ. It must be more than mere technique, or setting certain hours, time or place. I believe often we do not pray aright, but ask in the flesh, setting our own agendas, totally overlooking God’s purpose for suffering and seeming misfortune.

The Lord may have more to accomplish through death . . . we must learn to look at others’ suffering through the eyes of Jesus, where is the cross in our praying? What about self denial? Glorifying the Lord? Where is the authentic surrender to our King which marks us as disciples and followers, not successful affluent achievers? Beware of telling those who suffer “if you had the faith you would be healed” or just as bad, “God doesn’t heal today, that ended with the first century.” Where is Jesus between the two extremes, commanding the Father to do our will or denying His power to accomplish His will?

Satan counterfeits and takes in many. Christ refuses to deal in the counterfeit. I think of Francis Schaffer dying of cancer and Corrie Ten Boom being personally delivered from prison. We need to pray for “wellness” which includes an acceptance of our mortality and eventual death. One can be sick to death in body but at peace in spirit.


REFLECTION~March 14, 2002-John tells the story of the man born blind. “His disciples asked, ‘Rabbi, who sinned; this man or his parents, causing him to be blind?’ Jesus said, ‘You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent Me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.” (John 9:1-4, The Message)

Suffering has many purposes, and as Jesus clarifies, is not necessarily the result of sin. In this case “that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (9:3b NASB) Before we tell the Lord what we think He should do, we need to ask. We need to continue asking for His will and purpose in any given situation. As Jesus later prayed, “yet not what I will but what You will.” (Mark 14:36b NASB)

Blessings- bob and marilyn yawberg-SAYING YES TO GOD- Pastors In Prayer- Vol. III #8

(Reflection first written in 2002- Vol. X # 15

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Come of of the Closet!

"Just as you cannot lead the church in the ministry of the word simply from a desk, neither can you lead a church in prayer simply from a closet.
"Pastors Coming Out of the Closet"

Recently I conducted a Renewal Weekend at a large mid-western church. The pastor is an educated, articulate leader known for his preaching acumen. He even writes books to help preachers create effective sermons.

After the final service of the weekend (a Sunday evening worship-based prayer experience) he stood before his church with tears and offered two observations. First, he stated that he had not experienced the presence of God in such a powerful way since his early days in ministry where revival broke out in the church where he served on staff. Indeed, it was a powerful evening of worship and heart-felt prayer.

His second observation was incredibly insightful. He said to his congregation, “Over the years I’ve told you that the corporate prayer level of our church will never rise above our personal prayer lives.” He continued, “Tonight I want to correct that statement. I have concluded that our personal prayer lives will never rise above our corporate prayer experience because this is how we all learn to pray – in community. And I am resolved to lead you in that experience that we might truly become a house of prayer.”

You could conclude that this courageous pastor decided to come out of his prayer closet and start leading his people in the actual experience of prayer. That decision has been a big victory for him, for his congregation, and for Christ-honoring ministry in that community.

Toward a Consistent View of Leadership

Of course, it is an essential and wonderful thing that many pastors prioritize personal time in prayer. However, far too few come to the conviction of this pastor in the firm understanding that they must lead their people in prayer by example while modeling prayer in community experience. In reality, they are adopting a view of leadership that leaves their people far short of Christ’s ideal for the church.

Let me illustrate. Imagine a pastor named Charlie. He claims to have a deep conviction about the importance of the Bible in his life and ministry. He speaks highly of the Scriptures in personal conversations and writes compellingly about it in his philosophy of ministry. He claims to have a strong personal regimen of Bible reading and study.

Yet, the pattern of this leadership demonstrates an actual contradiction. In his public ministry Charlie is apathetic about the existence of Bible studies in his church. He never teaches people how to study the Bible. He seldom leads any Bible studies with others. When he does on those rare occasions, he seems uncomfortable and half-hearted.

In spite of Charlie’s verbal assent about the benefit of the Bible, he makes minimal references to the Scriptures when the church gathers. He rarely invests any substantive amount of time teaching the Bible to his congregation in corporate worship on Sundays. Instead, he tells stories and packs the services with an abundance of music, drama, and interesting anecdotes about current events.

Any church worth their salt would be grieved about the contradiction of Pastor Charlie’s words. They would wonder about his real commitment to the centrality of the Scriptures. While Charlie might talk a good talk, he obviously is failing to lead his church in the love for and understanding of the Bible.

In fact, the real commodity by which we judge any pastor’s commitment to the Scriptures is TIME. This includes time spent personally in the Word but ALSO time given to teaching and experiencing the power of applied truth in the corporate gatherings. If he does not give time to the Bible, we rightfully conclude he does not really value it.

Leading from the Closet Does Not Work

When it comes to prayer, many pastors live in the same contradictory gray twilight as Charlie. Somehow flowery words about prayer and claims of “doing business with God” in “the closet” suffice, while the church starves for leadership, never really learning how to pray. Jesus grieves because His house does not become a house of prayer. The Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2 indicating that the church should FIRST be a place of prayer are essentially ignored – because no one is leading the church in that direction. The commands to pray, given in the New Testament, are largely ignored in the community experience of the church.

In my travels, I see this so often. Many respected and godly leaders purport to have a strong prayer life – in private. However, they appear to have little conviction about modeling prayer and leading their people into life-changing experiences of prayer (we will talk about the reasons later). Of course, these pastors never lead powerful, praying churches because it is impossible to POINT the way in prayer. One must LEAD the way in prayer.

Just as you cannot lead the church in the ministry of the word simply from a desk, neither can you lead a church in prayer simply from a closet. In Acts 6:4 the early leaders were committed to engaging collectively and leading the church in BOTH prayer and the ministry of the word. Today, like those leaders, pastors must come out of their private closets and provide bold, biblical, and consistent leadership.

Why Church Leaders Hide in their Prayer Closets

Let me say clearly that the value of private prayer is beyond measure. Responsible pastors seek the Lord individually and regularly intercede for others. Yet, too many good pastors seem content with leaving their prayer impact at the closet door. Why is this?

In my book Fresh Encounters, I wrote extensively about this challenge – based on my own struggle in prayer and conversations with many pastoral colleagues. In summary, our reluctance to lead our churches in prayer is rooted in the following factors:
1. Rugged individualism
2. Closet confusion
3. Limited vision
4. Inadequate training
5. Cultural pushback
6. Personal defeat
7. Spiritual distraction
8. Fear of intimacy
In next week’s e-devotion we will elaborate on each of these eight factors and encourage your heart with some truths about the blessings that occur when pastors come out of their prayer closets to lead their people in biblical, balanced prayer.
In the meantime, pray for your pastor today. Pray that the Lord will draw him close to His heart and teach him more about the joys of seeking God’s face. Pray that, in His time, the Lord will help him see the calling to lead the church in regular and life-giving experiences of prayer. In the meantime, keep a loving and supportive attitude and look for opportunities to make a difference on your knees in your own church. The Lord will bless you as you support your leadership and pray for their growth in Christ.
Copyright © 2009 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.
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