Feeds:
Posts
Comments

church_prayer

One of the greatest quotes by a U.S. President was made by John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address:

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

We can apply this to our church: Ask not what your church can do for you. Ask what you can do for your church.

I suppose this can sound pretty self-serving, especially coming from a pastor. And you might be thinking, “Okay, now comes the big guilt speech on getting me to serve more or give more!”

But I’m not even going to go there. I want to focus on “asking.” Not just asking what we can do for our church, but asking God what He can do for our church.

Specifically, I want to encourage prayer for our churches.

I think, for many of us, our prayer life is directed to our own personal needs or the needs of those we love. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all. The Bible invites us to cast our cares onto God (2 Peter 5:7) and to intercede on behalf of others. But I want to ask a question:

Do you pray for your local church? Do you ask God for His blessings on your community of faith? Do you pray for your church to be fruitful in accomplishing the vision and mission God has given to you all?

I feel very personally convicted about this. I pray a lot. I pray for my ministry a lot. I pray for people in my church a lot. But I haven’t prayed for specifically God to work out His will powerfully in and through my church – in general. I just kind of assume that “church” things just happen on their own; that enough volunteers will will be raised up, that enough resources will be provided, that the community will be reached. And if things don’t happen, it’s up to the other leaders or the Senior Pastor to figure it out.

But if the local church is my church, then I should be praying regularly for my church – that God would direct my church’s leaders, that God would bless my church, that God would provide for my church, and that God would help my church to grow in breadth and depth.

So I decided to do something about it… (big breath) … I am committing one hour a week to pray specifically for my church, for CBC. And I’m inviting you to do the same for your church. (And if you go to CBC, you can join me Saturday mornings at CBC’s Worship Center to pray from 7am-8am.)

I wonder what would happen if, instead of complaining about church or leaving church when they get disgruntled, that church members would first pray for their church? I wonder what would happen if we came before the throne of God, asking Him to empower, direct, provide for, and grow our church – His church? What would happen if 5, 10 or 100 people interceded for their churches just 30 minutes every week? (I wonder what would happen if pastors prayed for their churches at least one hour a week??) What do you think would happen?

I know what would happen: God STUFF! Stuff that only God can do!

E.M. Bounds once said that the only way God’s people advance the Kingdom of God is … on our knees. Prayer is not preparation for the battle. Prayer is the battle.

So I’m looking for fellow comrades who will lift up their local church regularly in prayer. Will you join me?

Jesus-Vision

fear1

I stumbled onto something the other day while preparing for a sermon last week. The passage I was preaching on was particularly difficult: Mark 11:12-25. It was about Jesus cursing a fig tree, cleansing the Temple, and then giving a teaching on faith and prayer. I found it difficult to understand Jesus’ harsh reaction to the tree, in the Temple, and what all that had to do with faith and prayer.

While struggling with this, I was led to read verse 11:

“Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.”

That underlined phrase stood out to me as I read it. Jesus looked around. He saw things. He noticed things. In fact, Jesus looked around at everything. What was going on in his mind? What was Jesus seeing?

That’s when it hit me: the key to understanding this passage is to see what Jesus was seeing! In fact, that is the key to understanding life: we need to see life through Jesus’ eyes. “Jesus-vision.”

You can listen to how this played out in my sermon (click here and then click on “The Good News week 11”- it will be uploaded later today), but more importantly is this concept of interpreting life through the eyes of Jesus.

Our own perspective is limited and uncannily self-oriented. We see things we want to see. We gloss over things that don’t fit into our priorities. And, as a result, we miss out on opportunities that God may be leading us into. But Whole Life Worship calls us to “open the eyes of our hearts,” to look at life as Jesus sees it, to notice what God is doing around us, and joining Him in that.

What if we asked the question, “Jesus, what do you see?”

I think if we asked for “Jesus-vision,” to see life through His eyes, we would be amazed at what comes into focus. We would see people in a different light. We would start to see them more as people “lovingly created in the image of God” and less than objects in our personal drama. Instead of seeing our trials as road-blocks, we would begin see them as stepping stones and opportunities. Jesus-vision would make us more aware of our blessings and more conscious of God’s constant activity all around us. It would move us to deeper prayer, to acts of compassion, and to inspired worship.

There’s a guy I see around a lot who (and I’m ashamed to admit this) I try to avoid at all costs. He’s awkward to be around, his conversations with me are so self-focused and they are so long! But recently God’s moved in my heart to see this man through the eyes of Jesus. I’m realizing that he’s a guy who’s loved by God – deeply. He’s also a person who has been hurt and damaged through the course of life. It’s given me greater compassion and patience with him And while I still have a long way to go (still a little bit of aversion in me), I understand that my encounters with him are God-ordained, holy moments. And it’s changing me.

Jesus-vision. It’s seeing life through a new set of eyes.

Hi Friends,

I had a new post written for wholelifeworship today, but it got lost somewhere in the WordPress cyberspace. And unfortunately, I wrote it straight to the blogsite which means: I didn’t save a copy on my hard drive! (yeah, I know – it sounds like the “dog ate my homework” excuse!)

It’s all very humbling, especially since I announced that I was restarting the blog. And in some ways it was a test to see if my heart was really in the right place to start blogging. In the past, I would have scrambled at all costs to write something or even repost an old blog in fear of what my readers would think if I didn’t fulfill my promise. But I’m really trying to make this a God-thing, not a co-dependent thing and certainly not a Doug-thing. There were reasons why my post got lost and didn’t get published. We trust in the sovereignty of God in these things that are out of our control.

So I humbly apologize for the delay. I will write something soon. But right now, I have to use the time I have to write a sermon that I will be preaching at church tomorrow (please pray for me – I seem to be stuck in doing this as well). I’m so thankful for your encouragement and willingness to journey with me again.

Hopefully and God wiling – and I mean that in the strongest sense – I’ll have something posted by next week.

Thanks again for your patience,

Doug

I’m Back!

Just a quick announcement that I’m back to writing the WholeLifeWorship blog. You should see a new post tomorrow morning (7/29). I don’t know how frequent it will be – we’ll see how it goes. Thanks for your patience!

Blessings,

Doug

send button

After typing out what I thought was a funny retort to a long email chain, I hesitated for just a moment. But I clicked “send” anyway.

Then my mind was immediately bombarded with all sorts of thoughts. “Why did you send that?” “What are people going to think?” “You crossed a line, Doug!” “That wasn’t funny; it was insulting!”

And then I felt that sinking emotion: regret.

We’ve all done it. Regret comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s regret over something we’ve done: in our speech, in our actions, in a text message. But sometimes we feel regret over something that we failed to do: like not speaking out against a wrong, failing to support someone in need, not reconciling a relationship or not following through on a “Holy Spirit” nudge. Sometimes regret is over something trivial. Sometimes it is over something immensely huge.

I hate the feeling of regret. I feel it in my stomach. It tastes of bile. My face feels flush. But even worse that the feelings are the thoughts: guilt, sorrow, shame, and a constant stream of “what if’s” flooding my mind.

Sometimes I wallow in worry from regret. Other times I try to ignore it or stuff it. But I think Jesus wants us to deal with it differently.

I believe He calls us to work through our regret. Like every other issue we face in life, Christ wants us to walk through it with him. To bring our struggles to God’s throne for the sake of transformation is an act of worship – it’s all a part of offering our whole lives to God (Romans 12:1-2).

Here are a couple ways I work through my regret with Jesus:

  1. Welcoming prayer (click here for a more detailed description of this prayer practice): instead of avoiding the feeling of regret, I welcome it into my being. But I also welcome the Holy Spirit. I notice how this makes me feel without judging it or myself or others. I then surrender control over regret and the circumstances that caused it to the Lord.
  1. Silent prayer (click here): I take 5-10 minutes and still my soul, my heart and mind to hear for God’s voice to speak. In this case, I often pray the short prayer, “Lord, have mercy” when I notice myself getting distracted or when the voices start invading my mind.
  1. Share with a trusted spiritual friend: usually the first two prayers give me enough discernment of what I should do next (making amends, reconciling relationships or let it go). But I will also bounce the idea off my wife or one of my close spiritual friends (you know, the ones who will shoot straight with you).

One thing is for sure, you don’t want regret to fester in your soul by suppressing it or wallow in it. Too many Christ-followers allow the poison of regret to infect their lives, as well as the lives of others. If we’re really following Christ, he wants us to do one thing with our regrets:

Give it to Him.

Cast all your cares on him, for he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Checking In

Check-In

I apologize for such a long break between blogging. Some of you have been wondering, “What happened to Doug and wholelifeworship?” Some have even thought there was something wrong with your email or with WordPress (my blogging site).

No, there’s nothing wrong with your email or the website.

I just haven’t written any blog posts for over a month. There are reasons and excuses. Professionally, there have been some major transitions in my department. So there have been some emotional goodbyes to dear friends (they are good, by the way). And it has taken some time to get my new staff oriented and functioning (they are wonderful, by the way).

Personally, there have been some bumps in the road – some family things, some health things (nothing serious), and just some adjustments to be made because I’m getting older.

But mainly, I just haven’t had much inspiration to write. I promised myself that I would not write a blog post just to keep up with expectations (of others or my own). I didn’t feel it was right to just write on random things for the sake of keeping up the blog’s momentum. And most of all, I want this blog to be from the “overflow” of my soul.

To tell you the truth, while a lot has been going on in my soul over this past month, it hasn’t been formed enough to “name” or put into words.

So as unnerving as it has been for me (I am incredibly co-dependent who demands a lot from myself), I am being “schooled” by God to wait on him. Waiting to be filled. Waiting for the next wind of the Spirit. Waiting for the “seasoning” of my soul, heart, and mind that will result in something worth writing about.

I do sense something is coming. I’m confident that I will start writing again. I’m not sure when it is coming. And I have no idea whether it will be as regular as it was.

But I appreciate your patience. And I’m checking in with you. I’m still alive and well – thank the Lord!

One of my wholelifeworship friends told me that she went on my website and started reading some of my past posts. I was encouraged by that comment and I want to pass that idea onto you – if it’s something that would be helpful to you. Just go to wholelifeworship.com and find the box on the lower right hand side, entitled “Archives,” and you can catch up and some blog posts you may have missed in the past.

Blessings,

Doug

lost-child

Sometimes I get lost on the Way. It’s not that I intentionally go wayward. Most often, I get off the path without even knowing it. I start my day with the Lord in Personal Worship. I try to be aware of God through Worship in the Everyday Ordinary; doing my tasks as worship to Him (“practicing the Presence”), surrendering to Him difficult moments (“welcoming prayer”), and inviting His presence into empower what I do (“sacrament of the present moment”).

But even then, I can easily get off course. The busyness of my schedule, the mundaneness of being in the world, the distractions that come my way, and the insidious inclinations of my false self (not to mention the devil) cause me to float adrift in the current away from Christ.

That’s why it’s good to have reconnection points.

When I was growing up as a child, whenever we went to the County Fair (a highlight as a kid) my dad would tell me, “If we get separated, just come to this certain place at this certain time and we will reconnect.” That gave me tremendous security, knowing that if I ever got lost on the way, my Dad would always be able to find me.

We can apply the same principle to our spiritual lives. The Father and I have spiritual reconnection points during my day – a time and a place where we “meet” up. It’s like my Personal Worship Time in the morning, only shorter (5-15 minutes). It’s a time for me to get recalibrated to God’s frequencies, to pour out my heart to him, and to lift up my eyes to heaven.

We have two reconnecting points: mid-day (between 11am and 1pm) and evening (after 5pm). I usually pray some form of the Daily Office. But sometimes I’ll just pause for a few minutes of Silent Prayer, read a passage of Scripture, and pray spontaneously.

We see establishing reconnection points with God throughout the Scriptures: the Psalmist, Daniel, Jesus, and the Apostles. It was expected of any faithful Jew to pray at least three times a day. It was a standard practice of the Early Church. But it seems to be a forgotten rhythm in the contemporary, Western Protestant Church (like the Sabbath).

For the Whole Life Worshiper, reconnection points are vital to the integration of faith into real life. More important, it helps me to find my Abba Daddy when I get lost in the crazy “fairgrounds” of life.

Do you have reconnection points with God in your day?

What would help you to reconnect with God?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 833 other followers