Saturday, November 30, 2013

Preparing for worship on the first Sunday of Advent 2013

Tomorrow is December 1, 2013 - the First Sunday of Advent.

Here are the songs of worship planned for tomorrow:

We gather near the altar for a time of communion and we celebrate the assurance of the First Advent and the promise of the Second Advent. 

As we present our offerings to the Lord we acknowledge the faithfulness of our God
    - Immanuel – God is with us! --  the worship team will lead us in:

Now the teaching from God's Word:

Friday, November 29, 2013

Family pictures from Thanksgiving Day

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day!  Sharron and were so blessed to have our immediate family join us for this day.  It was a day with laughter and a delicious meal.  Sharron went beyond the call of duty by preparing home made rolls along with the family favorites with the turkey.  We had a few moments for some pictures:

First  - Sharron and I with our grandchildren:

Next a picture with of our children - with their children:
Our older grandchildren pose for their Thanksgiving pictures:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 2013 - Be glad!

On this Thanksgiving morning I am so blest to have my family around me. 

Here is a favorite group from the past singing Thanksgiving.  

GLAD is one of the pioneers of Christian pop/rock and a cappella music, having formed as a progressive rock group in 1972 and discovered a large audience for their a cappella music in 1988. Today, with over 1.5 million albums sold, they continue to perform concerts and release occasional recordings. As Contemporary Christian Music (CCM Magazine) described it, "GLAD's elegant vocals helped set them apart from other pioneers of Contemporary Christian music.

Here is one of my favorite GLAD clips.... enjoy!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A time of prayer for Thanksgiving

We are not gathering for prayer this evening at NRN in order to spend time with loved ones for Thanksgiving Day.  We have been praying for any request given for this week.  Here is a short time
of prayer for Thanksgiving:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Riding the Ministry Roller Coaster

Leadership and ministry can feel like a roller coaster. You go at break-neck speed through lots of twists and turns, and as hard as you try, you can’t see what is ahead. One situation goes exactly as you predict; the next one plunges into something else entirely. You face emotional ups and downs—walking with friends through personal tragedies, grieving with some and celebrating with others. This is the roller coaster of ministry, and there is no way around it.
However, we often experience more exaggerated highs and lows because of the pressure to lead a more “spectacular” ministry. We ride high as church attendance, decisions and giving rise, and we plunge low when they don’t. Sometimes we read about incredible ministries and rather than feel energized, we feel frustrated. Suddenly everything we are doing looks ... less. We may feel drained and defeated. We thought things were going okay until we saw how well they were going everywhere else! The pressure for a spectacular ministry can lead us into unnecessary emotional ups and downs and steal our joy. This is a reality for all kinds of ministry leaders and for churches of all sizes and styles. So I want to share some practices that can help on the roller coaster of ministry.

 Focus on Faithfulness
When Paul talks about having a spectacular ministry, he notes how much more important it is to have a faithful heart. Some attack his ministry and character, so he seeks to give his friends the ability to respond to his haters. He writes, “God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart” (2 Cor. 5:11-12, NLT).

Paul makes a distinction between a “spectacular ministry” and a “sincere heart.” He simply and powerfully reminds us that what is most important is not our fruitfulness but our faithfulness. In fact, our responsibility before God is not a spectacular ministry but a faithful and sincere heart.
Now, please don’t misread me. I’m all for results. I want to do everything I can to remove barriers that keep others from knowing Jesus and his life-giving salvation. I believe in counting most everything in our ministry so we can measure our effectiveness. I love to see progress and welcome accountability. However, in the end, a significant portion of ministry can’t be reduced to simple attendance and growth numbers. As I focus on being faithful first, it has a way of leveling me out from all the unnecessary ups and downs. I also think it allows our ministry to be more fruitful over the long haul.

Stay Compelled by Jesus’ Love
Every ministry and church will go through up and down seasons. Paul shares the secret of how he kept going in the face of those who questioned his motives and even his sanity. He writes, “Either way, Christ’s love controls us,” (2 Cor. 5:14, NLT). You can do the work of God for a lot of reasons—the praise of people, public recognition, loyalty to others, etc.—but the only thing that keeps you going through the ups and downs is the love of Christ. Because of Jesus’ love, every person matters, every size church matters, every number matters and every heart matters.

Let’s commit our hearts to be faithful and sincere before God, compelled by Christ’s love, and we’ll find ourselves enjoying the journey again while celebrating every victory in God’s kingdom.


Jud Wilhite is The New York Times bestselling author of Pursued: God’s Divine Obsession With You (FaithWords) and senior pastor of Central Christian Church, a 2013 Outreach 100 Church, No. 68 Fastest-Growing; No. 9 Largest. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

How Christian Are You?

Often times we view Christianity like it's a sliding scale. Billy Graham and Mother Teresa are near the top, some of those Pharisees and doubting Apostles are near the bottom, and then there's us somewhere in between. We minimize our relationship with Jesus into knowing the right vocabulary, being better out-loud prayers, and having a top-notch testimony. In this fun video from our Creative team, we show the problems that occur when we turn our faith into a test of knowledge, putting ourselves on scale that we can never measure up to.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Reflection of my message today at NRN

Today at NRN was awesome as we offered our testimonies of thanks to the Lord. 
Here is a reflection of my message today:

My warning:   A failure to express our thanks to God and to one another will limit the quality of your life and the power of your influence.

Here is the clip I used today in my message:  

Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.                                                                                                    Psalm 100:2-5

We Thank God for What He DOES,

We Praise God for Who HE   IS!

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him.                                       Luke 17:15-16a

In his book Daring To Draw Near, Dr. John White writes that several years earlier God had made it possible for him to acquire a lovely home with many luxuries. His feelings about the house fluctuated dramatically.

When he reminded himself that it was a gracious gift from God, he felt joy and thanksgiving. But when he would begin to compare it with those of his friends, he would feel proud because he had such a fine house and his joy would evaporate. His home would actually become a burden. All he could see were the many hedges and trees to care for and the endless odd jobs to do. White said, “While vanity clouds my eyes and burdens my heart, gratitude clears my vision and lightens my load.”

The writer of Ecclesiastes saw God at every turn in the enjoyment of material things. The power to eat the fruits of our labors and even the strength to receive and rejoice in them is from Him (5:18-19).
From beginning to end, all of life is a continuous gift-giving by God. We deserve nothing. He owes us nothing. Yet He gives us everything. If we remember this, we need not feel selfish or guilty. Whatever material blessings we have are a gift from our gracious God.
Ten thousand thousand precious gifts

My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the least a cheerful heart,
That tastes those gifts with joy. —Addison
God, who has given so much to us, gives one more thing—a grateful heart. —Herbert

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Preparing for worship at NRN - Do you have a testimony to share?

As we prepare for worship tomorrow at NRN I am very excited about the message God has placed upon my heart.  I expect a moving of the Holy Spirit as we express our thanks unto God. We will offer a time of testimonies to the Lord. 

Here is the prepared worship set:


Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.  
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."                                                                                    Luke 17:11-19

Friday, November 22, 2013

Our needs will never exhaust God’s supply - A prayer of faith...

Last evening there was an important meeting of the finance team of NRN.  As a church we are facing serious decisions, as many churches today are also facing.  We trust God for His provisions but struggle with the needed cash flow to meet obligations.  We have a deep desire to be good stewards but know that the current reality is that our giving is below our expectation and actually below the what a church our size should be investing in the Kingdom of God.  I am praying for an awesome offering this Sunday to meet a huge outstanding need for our ministry.  My heart is filled with trust and gratitude.  I felt the need to post a second time today on my blog.

Here is a thought from a devotional I read last month:

Outside my office window, the squirrels are in a race against winter to bury their acorns in a safe, accessible place. Their commotion amuses me. An entire herd of deer can go through our back yard and not make a sound, but one squirrel sounds like an invasion.

The two creatures are different in another way as well. Deer do not prepare for winter. When the snow comes they eat whatever they can find along the way (including ornamental shrubs in our yard). But squirrels would starve if they followed that example. They would be unable to find suitable food.
The deer and the squirrel represent ways that God cares for us. He enables us to work and save for the future, and He meets our need when resources are scarce.

As the wisdom literature teaches, God gives us seasons of plenty so that we can prepare for seasons of need (Prov. 12:11). And as Psalm 23 says, the Lord leads us through perilous places to pleasant pastures.

Another way that God provides is by instructing those with plenty to share with those in need (Deut. 24:19). So when it comes to provision, the message of the Bible is this: Work while we can, save what we can, share what we can, and trust God to meet our needs.

Thank You, Lord, for the promise that You will
meet our needs. Help us not to fear or doubt.
We’re grateful that You’re watching over us
and that our cries for help reach Your ear.
Our needs will never exhaust God’s supply.

This weekend at NRN - The Prayer Path

On Friday evening and Saturday - November 22-23 Pastor Jordan and the Youth Group at North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene are providing a meaningful spiritual experience for all who attend.

Using the Worship Center which has removable chairs as the prayer path location, Pastor Jordan and the youth group will lay out a prayer path with masking tape and placed the different stations along the path.
The prayer path is designed to take the participant on a spiritual journey. The prayer path helps deepen one’s relationship with God. As much time as needed or wanted can be spent on each step, meeting the needs of a person at each stage of their journey with God.

Personally, I look forward to the annual Prayer Path at NRN.  As I spent time alone with God and stop at each of the stations along the path, there is a renewal in my spiritual walk.  I highly recommend this to all believers to draw near to the Lord as we approach Thanksgiving and the Advent Season.

Even if you did not sign up for a time period - come and join us for this meaningful experience.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


 I recently read this on Facebook:

 I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, "This is the Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received."

 I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.

 Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section.

The angel then said to me, "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them." I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.

 Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. "This is the Acknowledgment Section," my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed.

 "How is it that there is no work going on here?" I asked.

 "So sad," the angel sighed. "After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments."

 "How does one acknowledge God's blessings?" I asked.

 "Simple," the angel answered. Just say, "Thank you, Lord."

 "What blessings should they acknowledge?" I asked.

 "If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world.

 If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy, and if you get this on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity."

 "If you woke up this morning with more health than illness.. You are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day."

 "If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation... You are ahead of 700 million people in the world."

 "If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world."

 "If your parents are still alive and still married.... you are very rare."

 "If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you're unique to all those in doubt and despair......."

 "Ok," I said. "What now? How can I start?"

 The Angel said, "If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special and you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all."

 Have a good day, count your blessings, and if you care to, pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are..........

 ATTN: Acknowledgment Dept.

 "Thank you Lord, for giving me the ability to share this message and for giving me so many wonderful people with whom to share it."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Just keep praying...


No one should tell another how long he should pray.  But most of us, I would guess, would say that when we pray we don’t pray long enough.  The best thing I can say on this is that when I pray longer than usual I feel more blessed and more refreshed.

Since we are all different, and since each of us is at different stages of spiritual growth, the length of prayer will be varied for each individual.  Here are seven guidelines that will help you to know how long you ought to pray:    

1.  Know that prayer is mostly listening.  Solomon tells us, from Ecclesiastics 5:1-2, that when we go to prayer we should not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter, but rather we should let our words be few.  Instead of being quick to tell Him our requests, and rattle on and on about them, we should first listen to Him and try to understand what His will is.  It seems from this passage that there is a principle or a rule of prayer—that prayer ought to be mostly listening.

 2.  Pray not to impress others, but pray according to the will of God.  I think especially in public prayers we must always be careful that we not pray to impress people (Mk.12: 40), but instead we should pray with a humble heart confessing our sins to each other.  I can think of not many other things that turn me off more than a believer who is obviously trying to show how well he knows the Bible and how good and how long he is able to pray.  In public or group praying you must aim at shortness.  Also, in your prayers, you should try to blend them with the others in the group so that it is as one prayer being offered up to God, not several individual prayers.  Sometimes it even seems that there is competition in prayer—one trying to pray better and longer than the other.  This, I think, is especially nauseating to God.

3.  Pray according to how long you can keep focused and according to the desire God gives you.  In contrast to the struggle we so often have in group-prayer, with trying to keep our prayers short, I think there is an even greater struggle in praying alone.  For the person who prays alone, the struggle is in keeping awake and in keeping focused; and then, as the struggle continues, the temptation is to quit before God wants us to.

But how long should we keep struggling in prayer if we can’t keep focused?  Let me say that if you don’t enjoy prayer, that it is absolutely nothing but a struggle for you, then don’t continue trying to grind it out.  I would instead urge you to spend most of your time in the Word, and as you read and study that you intently listen to what God is saying to you.  Then just say a few words of thanks and praise to Him.  Let the Word be your guide as to how much you should pray.  Soon, as you become familiar with the voice of God, as He speaks to you through the Word, you will find that you have a growing desire to pray.  Don’t let that desire pass you by.  Pray!  That desire to pray, however small, is God calling you to join Him in the great work of intercession. 

If you will go to prayer in those times of prayer desire, then your prayer times will be sweet.  Continue in prayer as long as you have the desire.  And don’t let anything distract you.  Focus your full attention on God.  In your prayer time, He may draw you to a passage of scripture.  Reflect on it and thank Him for it.  Meditate on that passage for a while, allowing God to say to you all that He wants to say; but don’t get sidetracked and go into an in-depth study.  Keep focused on prayer.  In your time of prayer, God may draw you to pray for a certain person.  Continue in prayer for that person until the burden is lift

 4.  Pray according to how Satan keeps resisting.  If you are praying and you sense that Satan is resisting you, then you must continue in prayer for as long as Satan keeps resisting.  For this resisting of Satan is an indication that what you are praying for is of great value.

In Daniel 10:2-14, we see that Daniel prayed and fasted for three entire weeks, struggling against the enemy. It wasn’t until the end of his prayer time that he learned (presumably, by an angel) that all during that three weeks his answer was being delayed by evil forces, which finally, at the end, were conquered by this presumed angel with the help of another angel—Michael, who was one of the chief princes (v. 13).  But what if Daniel had only prayed for two weeks and quit?  He, no doubt, would have been left without an answer.  The application for us is clear: if we feel continually distracted and feel like quitting, pray instead with an even greater fervor, following ever closely the inner desire of the Holy Spirit.  For it is the Spirit of Christ calling you to be His prayer partner—to join in warfare against the demons and all the evil powers that have come to resist you.

5.  Pray until the answer comes.  Jesus instruction is clear—we ought to continue in prayer at all times and not to lose heart (Lu. 18:1).  That is to say, if God has given you a desire to pray for something, you ought to continue praying until the answer comes.  Though there may be many distractions and temptations to quit, we must keep praying, because that is what Jesus is doing.  Yes, if God has given you a desire to pray for a thing, you can be sure that Jesus is praying for that thing.  So let us join Him.  Sometimes the answer will come soon, but sometimes it will take days, and weeks, and months, and even years.  Now obviously you can’t continue nonstop in prayer for years without doing anything else, but the idea is that when ever you go to prayer you must pray for the same thing over and over until the answer comes.

 “There are times [says Torrey] when it is not made clear the first time, nor the second time, nor the third time, that the thing we ask is according to His will and that therefore the prayer is heard and the thing granted; and in such a case we ought to pray on and on and on.”

Torrey continues:

 There are those, and there are many of them, who, when they pray for a thing once or twice and do not get it, stop praying; and they call it ‘submission to the will of God’…and they say, ‘Well, perhaps it is not God’s will.’…But as a rule this is not submission to the will of God: it is spiritual laziness and lack of determination…I am glad that God does not always give us, the first time we ask, the things that we seek from Him.  There is no more blessed training in prayer than that which comes through being compelled to ask again and again and again, even through a long period of years, before one obtains that which he seeks from God.  Then when it does come what a sense we have that God really is, and that God really answers prayer.

6.  Remember who you are praying to – your Father and your friend.  There are times when God wants us to pray for hours at a time as to a friend.  Have you ever talked to a friend on the phone for an hour and not even realize how long it’s been.  Well, personally I don’t care to talk on the phone that long, but I have had long conversations with friends while walking, or over a meal, etc.  It is in our nature to periodically have long conversations with friends, so it is also quite natural and healthy to periodically have long prayer times.  God desires it and in our spirit we also desire it.

 7.  Observe the example of others and pray for the desire to pray long as they do.  There are several examples in scripture of those who have refused to quit praying, but instead were doggedly persistent until the answer came.  Such was Jacob, who after all night in prayer, wrestling with God, went out unafraid to meet his brother Esau (Gen. 28).  And then there was Moses who kept his hands raised to God in prayer until Amelek was totally defeated (Ex. 17:13).  Or how about Elijah, who went up to the top of Mount Carmel, and there, with his face between his knees, prayed until God brought rain.  I don’t know how long he had to pray, but we know that while praying, and in anticipation of the answer, he sent his servant out to look for rain clouds seven times.  And on the seventh time, finally, a small cloud was spotted, and indeed the rain came, not a light rain but a heavy shower!

 Jesus was the greatest example of a man who spent much time in prayer.  That was because he did nothing of his own initiative; everything He did He consulted His Father about.  And though He was always busy doing His father’s work—teaching and healing, etc.—He always seemed to find the time to pray.  He was found in prayer especially in the evenings and early mornings.  Sometimes He would pray all night.  As E.M. Bounds has stated, “His campaigns were arranged and His victories were gained in the struggles and communion of His all night praying…He filled the day with working for God; He employed the night with praying to God. The day-working made the night-praying a necessity.  The night-praying sanctified and made successful the day-working.”

I think, for Jesus, prayer was considered to be just as important as any of His activities.  Indeed, He may have considered it to be His greatest work. 

And He not only prayed at night and in the morning, He continued in prayer all during the day; for His teaching was that “men ought always to pray and not to faint.”

Let us take the example of Jesus and all the great men and women of prayer who continued to pray long until the answer came.   Let us be motivated to continue in prayer according to the ongoing desire He gives us—praying in faith with holy boldness until the victory is ours.  As R. A. Torrey has stated, “Our heavenly Father delights in the holy boldness on our part that will not take ‘no’ for an answer…nothing pleases God more than faith.”

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How long should a Pastor stay? The Magic Year for Ministry Success

How Long Should You Stay?
                   The Magic Year for Ministry Success

by Charles Arn     

There is an undeniable relationship between pastoral tenure and church growth.

Several years ago, a study by the largest Protestant denomination in the country found a startling relationship between the length of time pastors had been in their churches, and the growth or decline of those churches.

Their finding? Approximately three-fourths of their growing churches were being led by pastors who had been in their churches more than four years, while two-thirds of their declining churches were being led by pastors who had been in their churches less than four years. Their conclusion (with which I agree):

Long-term pastorates do not guarantee that a church will grow. But short-term pastorates essentially guarantee that a church will not grow.

So, why do pastors leave their churches? Here are the results of one study where pastors were asked that question …

There is an undeniable relationship between pastoral tenure and church growth.

While most growing churches have long-term pastorates, and some non-growing churches have long-term pastorates, it is almost unheard of to find a growing church with many short-term pastorates. Frequent change of pastors seems to negate all the other complicated ingredients that go into a church’s growth mix.

What To Do About It

If you are a pastor, personally and publicly commit to staying in your church for least seven years. (The average pastoral tenure is less than four years.) You may get an itch to leave sooner. But if you stay into the sixth or seventh year, you will likely begin to experience unsurpassed effectiveness and fruitfulness.

Once you get past year seven, there’s a good chance you’ll want to stay much longer. I agree with Roger Parrot, who says: “Lead as if you’ll be there forever! Imagine that the organization and position you are in right now is what God wants you to do for the rest of your professional life.”

I was curious about pastoral longevity in the Wesleyan Church. A more comprehensive and correlational study should be done, but last week I called the 25 largest churches in our denomination to find out:

1) When the church was founded.

2) How long the present senior/lead pastor has been at the church.

3) How long the previous senior/lead pastor had been at the church.

What’s your guess?

Senior pastors in the 25 largest Wesleyan churches have been serving in their position for an average of 17.8 years!

The previous pastors of these same churches had been there an average of 15.2 years. And four of the churches are being led by their founding pastors, who have been there an average of 18.2 years.

Of course, it may be demotivating to imagine being in a church where you see no likelihood of a growing ministry or influence. But why not have faith that there is sufficient opportunity where God has placed you in that church and community … and your task is to tap into it?

Don’t fall for the myth that greater ministry is somewhere else! When you plan to stay where you are for the next 20 years, you will approach your ministry with a commitment that will be unshaken by the winds of change, challenge and time.

But …

If you’re thinking, “Well, that’s good advice for most pastors, but … ” don’t let these excuses masquerade as reasons to move:

  • More money. Human nature is always dissatisfied, however much we make.

  • Conflict. Another characteristic of human nature: Conflict is anywhere there are people.

  • You’re getting stale. Commit to being a life-time learner. It will keep you and your church in touch with today’s issues.

  • Greener pastures. See Philippians 4:12.

  • Boredom. To quote Rick Warren, “It’s not about you.”

  • Burn-out. Whether you have reached that point or not, take time to retreat and renew.

  • An exploratory call. We all like to be liked. But just because a church is calling doesn’t mean God is.

  • You’re out of sermons. If that’s your reason for moving, I suggest you shouldn’t be in the ministry.

  • Too much pressure. So your next church will be without pressure? If your motivation to move is to avoid pressure, see the response above.

If you are a lay church leader, the next time you look for a new pastor, make intended longevity a criteria. If you are a denominational leader, encourage pastors to remain faithful rather than abandon their church in difficult times.

I believe there is a relationship between the three following statistics:

1. A pastor’s most productive time usually begins in years five, six and seven;

2. The average pastoral tenure in Protestant churches is less than four years;

3. Nearly 85 percent of today’s churches are not growing.

It’s sad that the vast majority of pastors miss their most potentially fruitful — and enjoyable — years of ministry.

Remember the Apostle Paul’s wise counsel: “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith”                                                                                                                                      (Gal. 6:9-10 The Message)

Monday, November 18, 2013

When I am discouraged - Just believe

When I face times of discouragement in ministry I try to encourage myself by drawing near to God.   I spend time in the Word of God, sing songs of worship and listening to pastors I trust.  Here is an example of a recent 10 min message which encouraged me and I hope will encourage you today:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A reflection of my message today at NRN GRAVITY

Today at NRN we celebrated Southern Gospel Sunday.  As I prayed about the worship I sensed a leading from the Lord that there should be a time of preaching the Word of God.  On Saturday evening I sensed clarity about my message.  Here is a reflection of the message I have prepared for today:

In the film, Gravity, Sandra Bullock portrays character Dr. Ryan Stone: A medical engineer and Mission Specialist on her first mission in space. Her character, Ryan Stone, finds herself in a desperate situation, stranded all alone in outer space. She is almost certainly about to die. She knows she needs help beyond herself. But she doesn't know how to ask for it.  Stone, has been emotionally adrift since her 4-year-old daughter died in an accidental fall. This is a turning point in the film:


She says, "No one will mourn for me. No one will pray for my soul... I’ve never prayed... Nobody has taught me how..."
When I watched this clip I wondered: "How many people could say the same thing?" More and more people in our world are like Ryan Stone. There are more people who, when asked "What religion are you?" always check "none of the above."

A 2008 Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life report found that about half the unaffiliated surveyed said they believed in some kind of life after death — including 18 percent of the atheists and 35 percent of agnostics. About 40 percent of the unaffiliated believe in heaven — including 12 percent of the atheists and 18 percent of agnostics. And on the BIG question, 30 percent of the unaffiliated said they were pretty sure there was no God. 

Too many people don't have a strategy - a plan, a pathway - for prayer.

Just in case no one ever taught you how to pray, here's a simple method. If you can remember P.R.A.Y. then you can learn how to pray.

P – praise. Praise Christ for something good that happened in your life today.

I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!                                                                 Deut. 32:3

 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise…                  2 Samuel 22:4

Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.                                                     1 Peter 1:3

R – repent. Repent of something wrong that you did today. Tell Jesus you're sorry for your sin and that you will seek His help not to live that way anymore.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.                           Acts 3:19

A – ask. Ask the Lord for something good and godly that you desire.

Ask, and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.                                                                       Matthew 7:7  

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”                                                                                            Matthew 21:22 

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.                                         Mark 11:24 

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.    John 14:13-14 

Y – yield. Submit yourself and commit yourself to do the will of God for your life. Put Christ in the driver's seat of your life. Make Him Lord all.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.                                       1 John 1:9
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.                                                                       Romans 6:23

Commit yourself to pray this way and you will be approaching God in dependence and humility. And if you are ever all alone and stranded in outer space (or somewhere on this planet), you can effectively access God.