Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Power of Prayer, a Fresh Testimony

We saw first-hand today in a meeting with other ministry leaders that prayer works. Before I share my exciting experience, humor me for a moment of background.

One of my main mentors in life was an elderly pastor who has since gone to be with Jesus. His whole life revolved around prayer. He taught prayer at a Christian University for many years. I had the privilege of learning much from this dear mentor.

One day I took a group from the church I was pastoring at the time, to a Grateful Dead concert to share Jesus. If you know me at all, you’re probably smiling knowing that was entirely out of my comfort zone.

As we walked through the parking lot, there were thousands of young people partying there, as many as were actually in the concert. It was dark, loud unpleasant music, the smell of pot hung heavy in the air, and there were many seedy-looking characters tail-gating.

We prayed our way through the masses, trying to witness to those we felt the Lord prompt us to. We approached a car with three young men drinking and smoking. They offered us their goods very openly.

As we asked where they were from, we learned they had driven up from the neighboring state. There was something different about one of the young men and I said “what’s your story, you have a gentle heart”? I wish I could show you the look on his face as he began to cry.

He told me his dad was a pastor, and he knew he shouldn’t be there. We hadn’t even introduced ourselves to them (though likely my most casual attire betrayed I hadn't come for the concert.) I’m sure his parents were praying for their son, and God answered by sending us right up to these three young men. They were self-convicted and packed up their party and headed home. Prayer works!

I mentioned the background to say I have a heart for prayer; I start and finish each day with prayer. Recently I have been blessed to assemble a group of people from around the country that I have met on Twitter. These are real people, serious about prayer, and they are praying for me and the new ministry we’re planting in Crystal Lake.

This group recently prayed for favor for us as we submitted a request to lease a facility for our new church plant. I received word last week that we had been preliminarily approved. Today we had a formal meeting with the leadership responsible for the building to discuss the lease terms. My friends have been praying for us today as well.
It is a beautiful facility in a high visibility location that is only a few years old, and is actually owned by another ministry. Clearly God gave us favor with the owners. We expressed our gratitude and told them we had been praying for them. The pastor looked at me and said “it worked”.

He went on to say he had made up his mind not to lease the facility to us. On Pentecost Sunday he said the Lord spoke to him and told him they were supposed to let us have the building. The pastor was
able to say this with a friendly smile on his face.

Clearly God opened a door man had determined to close. God also gave him a cheerful heart in his ultimate decision. I am convinced this was a direct answer to my new world-wide Twitter prayer team to whom I say a great big thank you.  I appreciate you, and I love you in Jesus. God has blessed me with praying friends, prayer partners.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

For the Birds

Pamela and I enjoy sitting out in the garden courtyard on pleasant mornings like today. It’s a great place to spend quiet time with the Lord and each other. Plus seeing the birds, fish and turtles enjoying their habitats is calming.

Today before I sat down I put fresh water in the bird bath. As I was reading I watched a few birds land at the bird bath a few feet from me. They would each look at me for a moment as if to say “is it OK if I use this”? Then they would proceed to enjoy a bath.

From my perspective, I placed the bird bath there for them to enjoy. I keep it filled with fresh water, mostly for their enjoyment. I say mostly because actually they could bath in the lake, but I thoroughly enjoy their presence and seeing them happy. Furthermore, I have a child-like belief that since God’s eye is on the sparrows, He sees me caring for them as well.

Today it crossed my mind that is how our heavenly dad feels about us. When we enjoy His abundant daily blessings, we’re not taking advantage of His goodness, we’re blessing Him back. He loves it when we draw near to Him and refresh ourselves in His presence.

The heart of this post is not for the birds, but you. No matter your age, how many times you’ve been around the block or how bruised, broken or tired you are, please hear this. God still has an awesome plan for your life, the hope-filled future you may have dared only to dream of. Be assured by reason you still have breath, that He is not finished with you. In fact He longs for you to step into position even more than you long to.

I don’t care if you totally surprised your parents starting your life in the back seat of a ‘57 Chevy, make no mistake, God was not caught off guard. He gave you your life, and it came after He had a purpose He desired to fulfill, and chose you to do it. Jesus has placed each of us here to impact this world in a specific way – to convey the heart of God in a unique way only you can.

Don’t be afraid of drawing close to Him. He has intentionally prepared a place just for you. No one can fill your spot; no one can hold you back, just you. Enjoy! He's just that in to you.

Happy Father's Day Paul! We Love You! -The Team at THE WELL