Prayer and the Weekend

“Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).

First of all, I am lamenting that one all-too-brief sneak preview of fall. I honestly thought it would last a few more days, but the hot stinky sweatiness has returned. Boo.

I’m still churning over Matthew Page’s sermon from The Church at Avenue South in my head. It was about prayer, not as a means to treat God as a celestial vending machine, but as a way to get to know the heart of the God who is both Father and the Infinite Almighty.

I confess I’ve fallen into the trap of making prayer a sort of laundry list of wants and needs. It’s gotten less and less about remembering who God is and what He’s already done for me and more and more about me and my needs.

I keep thinking about the Better Together celebration at Hadley Park where two churches of different backgrounds came together as one. Mt. Zion Baptist Church, a historically black congregation, and Brentwood Baptist Church, made up of mostly whites, both joined in this event to show that the Gospel trumps racism and inequality, and that the hope of Jesus is for everyone from every kind of background.

That in itself was the answer to the prayers of a lot of people. I have a feeling that the closer we as believers get to the heart of God (what God desires and longs for from us), the closer we get to those outside of our normal comfort zones and routines. The more we understand that Heaven will be comprised of people from every tongue and tribe and race.

One last thought on prayer before I go. This is essential to understanding prayer and how it works:

“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work” (Oswald Chambers).

Better Together

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So many of the famous musical groups were better than the sum of their parts.

Take Simon and Garfunkel, for instance. To me, what they did together is better than what Paul Simon or Art Garfunkel have done since.

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Kodachrome or Still Crazy After All These Years, but it’s just not up to the level of Sound of Silence or The Boxer.

I truly believe that the old Chicago lineup was way better than what Peter Cetera and the remaining members of Chicago have done since.

So many groups have either split up or seen their lead singer move on to a solo career. Sometimes it works out for the best,  but most of the time, the end result is that what each does separately can never compare to what they did together.

That’s a lot like being a part of the Church. We’re better together. In fact, we’re much more than the sum of our parts when we’re living in fellowship, sharing a common life together.

In Acts, the Holy Spirit came upon the believers and anointed the body of believers to go out and spread the Kingdom message. The results of them being better together are evident in Acts 2 where many thousands of people believed in their message and were added to the Church.

The present age tells you that you don’t need anybody and that you are best on your own. You are actually more vulnerable and prone to temptation when you’re alone, apart from other believers.

That’s why the local church is so important. Not because they’re the perfect group of people. Definitely not because your salvation depends on going to church.

It’s because we can do life together way better than we ever could apart. It’s where you are strong in areas where I am weak, and visa versa.

We are truly better together.

A Moment of Whoa!

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I had a Joey moment. It’s one where I literally almost said “Whoa!” out loud. I did said it in my head.

One of the men staying with us at Room in the Inn said something that paused me in my tracks. Proverbially, since I was already sitting down, but it got me thinking. Here’s what he said:

Sin has the letter I right smack dab in the middle of it, while Jesus has the word “us” in it.

There’s an I in sin. Right in the middle, which puts me in the center of my life instead of God. Sin is all about me doing things my way and setting myself up as the ultimate authority.

There’s an US in Jesus. As in although Jesus saves us one person at a time, He puts us together in community, what we sometimes refer to as the body of Christ. Jesus never saves anyone to live out their faith on their own, but in the midst of other believers. Simply put, we are better together.

Sin leads to isolation and loneliness. And as just about anyone can tell you, you are much more prone to temptations and pitfalls when you’re fighting alone. Jesus leads us to accountability and encouraging and mutual bearing of burdens. When we are together, we compliment each other because where I am weakest, someone else excels, and where that person may fall short is where my gifts and calling lie.

Beware of anything that leads you away from fellow believers. I understand that not all of us are extreme extroverts and some of us like times to be alone. But no one should spend all their time alone, away from others who can watch out for them and warn them of imminent dangers they might otherwise walk blindly into or possibly speak that word of encouragement that enables them to go on for one more day.

There’s an I in sin and and US in Jesus. It’s that simple.

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