Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

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Trust In You

September 3, 2009

One of the things that happens as I pray scripture is that God uses his word to transform me.

Psalm 86:2 says this,

“Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God;”

As David pens the words, “Guard my life” he does so with great boldness. When I sit down to pray the words, “I am faithful to you”, or “I trust you” I have this check inside of my spirit that seems to say, “Really?” It becomes a time of evaluation. Am I really faithful to the God who has been more than faithful to me? Do I really trust him with everything? Would other people look at me and describe me as being faithful and trusting to God?

As I pray I ask God to increase my faith and increase my level of trust. As that happens, I am transformed.

Let me hold nothing back, “You are my God.”

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

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Praying Scripture

September 2, 2009

Somewhere around 10 years ago Brian Bloye took the West Ridge staff to Birmingham, AL to listen to John Maxwell talk about Spiritual Leadership. During that talk Maxwell talked about a spiritual activity that forever changed my prayer life. It was the idea of reading scripture, personalizing it, and then praying it back to God. Over a week ago I revisited a Psalm where David seems to pray everything I ever want to say to God. I have tried to pray it every day for over a week now. It is Psalm 86.

It begins this way: Psalm 86:1, Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.

It gives me such great perspective to pray that back to God from my heart to his. There are moments in life where we really feel we need God. Unfortunately, there are a lot of moments where we are on cruise control, or feel like we are fine on our own for today, thank you very much. This prayer reminds me, whether I feel it or not, that every day I need  God. It’s not pitiful or self-loathing, it’s the right perspective. Jesus said it in Matthew 5, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In John 15:5 Jesus also says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” That makes me a needy person.

One other thought from my perspective, “What is the greatest way to really feel needy every day?” Pray God-sized prayers. It’s easy to pray for things we intend to try and take care of on our own. What are you praying for the Kingdom of God that you know beyond any doubt that if God doesn’t intervene you will fail? This is not a question for church staff or vocational ministers. This is not just for those who are praying through personal difficulty right now. This is a question for every disciple of Jesus. What are you praying  for the Kingdom of God that you know beyond any doubt that if God doesn’t intervene you will fail?

I hope you will have the courage to pray ‘needy’ prayers today.

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

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Why am I in Brazil

August 25, 2009

As some of you know, we have been praying at West Ridge Church now for many months about new Missions opportunities. I have had conversations about a dozen different great works by godly leaders in a dozen different countries. Many others have pitched mission opportunities to me in places where God is working. I’ve put a lot of prayer into a lot of different places I’ve never been. A couple of these conversations have stayed with me. I have felt God saying, you have to go see this. Sooner or later I have to get out of the office

So, I’m in Brazil. I’m near Manaus. Less than 200 years ago it was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. The whole world came here for a commodity – rubber. In 1920 some aggressive folks from Europe came and took steps that made this trade move, and many things moved away with it. One thing remains – the River.

We would refer to it as the Amazon. But here, just before the actual Amazon begins there are two, the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes. Once they collide the Amazon begins. Down that river there are groups of people who have retreated deep into the jungle to hide from – well – everyone.

Up until the 1980’s there were groups of people making their way into the Amazon killing tribal people because they are different. They are strange. They have peculiar customs, and unusual ways of looking out for one another. They were killing them completely out of fear. And now that same fear has created an environment where no one from the outside is allowed into these villages. It would mean certain death. And in these villages there are over 90 unreached people groups. Each have their own language as can be with hundreds of dialects. Groups of people who have never heard that there is a God who sacrificed His only Son to have a relationship with them.

So how will they know? That’s what I am here to learn about. Recently, a group of Brazilian Pastors secured over 200 acres just a couple of kilometers off of the Amazon River. I walked the property today.  It is breathtaking. From this place they plan to recruit men from the villages down the river, and train them to take God’s message with them. It is a big, multi-faceted vision! What do they need from us? That is what I’m here to find out. Other churches are here from our Atlanta community. This may be another opportunity to work together in meaningful ways.

I am looking forward to seeing even more in the days to come.

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

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This is Christmas!

December 20, 2008

So here it is, the day before a big day. 4 months ago the idea of a couple people to throw a Christmas party to families in need has turned into a God-given opportunity to touch 1500 families with the “kindness of God  that leads to repentance” (Rom. 2). The ‘party’ happens tomorrow.

A couple things: This would not be possible if we made this all about us. After years of investment in the same community (by our church) the power of partnership is ‘expanding our territory’ more than anything else. We have partnered with multiple community groups and key non-profits to be able to reach out. Because of the generosity of our church, our community ,and the 4 other churches who have partnered with West Ridge Church (Pumpkinvine Baptist, Hope Methodist, Church at the Ridge, Cedarcrest Church) we will have enough food and gifts for every family.

Even if a family does not come to the party, food boxes are being delivered Monday. 1500 families will get some kind of Christmas assistance.

So one last challenge: For whomever reads this today and tomorrow, please pray for what is going to happen on this campus. We are praying with great expectations. God has shown us this was His idea. And He has stepped in to make sure it happens the right way.

Along with prayer here is some encouragement. My wife and I have cut back on Christmas this year. There are lots of reasons for it, and none of them have to do with personal hardship. It is very simple. We are extraordinarily blessed.  Over the years we have become more aware of the needs in our own community, and with my travels to Burkina Faso, the lens with which we see the world has changed. I’m not trying to be pious. My boys are getting some good gifts! We are just not going overboard. The main reason for cutting back was to be sure we engaged with A Fresh Hope and CAYA and the West Ridge Gift Offering, even if in just a small way, without letting the season pass us by.

Don’t let the season pass you by. We can still use canned goods and gifts tomorrow. And if you go to West Ridge (or another church that is doing something similar), the easiest thing you can do to engage this community and the world at Christmas is to give a larger gift to Christ than any other single gift you are giving this year. Participate in the Gift Offering this year as a way of thanking God for all the good gifts He sends our way.

I’ll post an update on this event tomorrow night or Monday.

Everyone Belongs, 

Paul

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When you don’t know what to pray

October 14, 2008

Every once in a while in prayer, I will just hit an out and out wall. This comes at random times. Many times in prayer we pray with the answer already in mind. We pray things like “God, heal like this” or “Provide this much in this way” or just all in all, “God, do it like this!”

Most of the time when I hit a wall in prayer, I think it’s because I don’t have the answer, but I must remind myself that God does. There are two things I do when I don’t know what to pray.

The first is found in Romans 8:26-28, 

 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I love this passage. When you don’t know what to pray you can ask the Spirit of God to pray for you, and you can trust that he knows the will of God and will put your prayers right into the stream of God’s will. That’s beautiful! I do this often. I just say, “God, I don’t know how to pray for this person/situation, Holy Spirit, would you pray for me?”

The next comes from John Maxwell. I heard him say this in Birmingham, Alabama in 1998. Speaking at a conference he said, “When you pray God’s word, you are praying God’s will”. Hearing him say that changed my prayer life. This is simply the practice of reading a passage of scripture and then personalizing it. When you do that, you make those ‘God-breathed’ words your own.

The first passage I ever made personal was Ephesians 1. I’ll never forget the first time I prayed that text. Most often I will pray a Psalm or two back to the Lord. Some of the Psalms help me worship, some help me confess, some just say it all. Consider it King David’s blog. His Spirit-guided thoughts resonate with me in different ways at different times. With 150 of them to choose from, I can always find something to pray.

Most recently I have found myself praying, Psalm 25, Psalm 63, and Psalm 86.

Everyone Belongs, 

Paul

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Listen

October 13, 2008

Over the last couple months I have really felt the need to step it up in the area of prayer. I do try and ‘practice the presence the God’ by thinking or whispering a prayer whenever a need comes to mind, but I have just felt the need to go further. Perhaps the desire to raise the intensity level would be the best way to describe it.

I have a tendency to be a bit formulaic with prayer. I start out with worship, move to a time of confession, ask to be filled with the Spirit as we are encouraged to in Ephesians, and then lay out requests. This time typically happens when I wake up or after getting ready for the day, I’ll pray in the car.

Lately, I have just felt compelled to pray at random times. However, the more I pray the more I feel as though I should just shut up and listen. I don’t sense God telling me to shut up, so perhaps it’s a poor choice of words. But when I just take a few minutes at the end of a time of prayer to be still and meditate on Him, he impresses his thoughts on my heart in a unique way. It’s not audible, but it is tangible.

So what does God say? For now, that’s personal, but the number one thing I have felt impressed on my heart I believe God would say to anyone on the planet…”Let’s meet again.” “Let’s meet again tomorrow” or “You know what, it can be before tomorrow, let’s just do this again soon.”

My hope is that anyone who reads this, might feel compelled even now, to pray…and listen.

Everyone Belongs, 

Paul