Monday, September 19, 2016

A Brand New World

I was watching the Hillsong documentary Let Hope Rise tonight and I heard a lyric. I don’t know what song it was, I heard the lyric and then I felt God give me the nugget of truth that would grow to this blog.

The lyric was “to see a brand new world”.  

Instantly it took my mind to images of a a newborn baby and thoughts of a new Christian.
So often when someone goes to the altar. Those of us that are established in our faith, I think expects them to immediately be transported in their walk to where we are. Or at very least to where we think they should be.

When they don’t instantly stop talking the way they used to. Or watching the movies they used to we question their conversion.

I had the blessing of getting to visit baby Gabby twice recently in the hospital. Gabby, if you are unaware was born to Matt and Laura Latall 3 months early. She is a beautiful baby girl with a ridiculous amount of hair.   
Seeing her there so vulnerable, tiny and reliant is how we are when we finally lay our lives down for Christ. You might be 33 years old like me but you are a brand new creature. A newborn. Everything you see you are seeing with new eyes. Everything you hear you are hearing with new ears. You are newborn. It is a brand new world.

That is why Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth describes his teaching to new believers like this  “I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren't ready for anything stronger. And you still aren't ready,”  1 Corinthians 3:2 

We all grow at a different rate.  Paul knew that.

At LifePoint we have been blessed to baptize a lot of people recently. It’s up to the rest of us to guide these new believers. To love them and encourage them. To not expect too much from them too fast.  Let them grow. 
After all paraphrasing Philippians 1:6 the Jesus that began a good work in you and promises to see it thru has done the same for them.

God will eventually raise them to a new level like He did you. Hopefully this idea will help you filter your encounters with new Christians and even non-believers.  Whether in person or online. 
When you see someone on Facebook post something inappropriate or use language from the old life look at it again thru the filter of how long (or if at all) they have been a follower of Christ.

Be a good example, be patient and Love First.

Thanks for reading
Alan

Monday, September 5, 2016

It's not a Sprint.

Pray 10k is upon us. You are going to hear a lot about this in the coming weeks as well as read plenty about it on our various blogs. 

First I want to tell you why it is important to me.  I could go into scripture about how the Bible says you are supposed to pray. I could point out the times Jesus prayed but I'm not going to do that.  What I am going to do is tell you a fact about me.

I have a terrible prayer life, its true and its sad.  Most mornings I start the day with a quick prayer for my family and our day. Maybe something that is worrying me. This is usually about 2-3 minutes of actual prayer punctuated by mind wandering and the occasional fall back to sleep.

During the day I pray for anyone I say I will pray for immediately. I do it right away because I don’t want to forget.  This is another couple minutes. 

Sometimes when I drive I’ll pray, however I live less than 3 minutes from work so that is a 6 minute tops.

When I go to bed I start a prayer that usually ends with me falling asleep.  The Lord seldom hears an “amen” from me after 9pm. The average person takes 8 minutes to fall asleep when they are tired and I am nearly always tired so lets add 8 minutes.

That is how my life goes.  I want to do better but I don’t.  I think I am too busy, I think its not as important as some of the pastoral work I do. I am wrong.

So when Kelly sprung pray 10k on us I was excited and nervous.  He asked for the staff to pledge 100 hours.  That’s 2.5 hours a day, up roughly 2 hours and 10 minutes from my usual.
As leaders we should do as much or more than we expect of others so a few of us have uped our commitment to 3 hours. 
So to me this challenge is important because God willing it will be habit forming and reshape my prayer life.

How am I going to do this? Especially since it seems like I barely have time for 20 minutes?

Prioritize: I am going to put prayer as top priority for the next 40 days.  I will put prayer before entertainment, prayer before work, prayer before family time, prayer before “me time”.
For 40 days prayer will be the most important thing I do.


Rise: I am committed to getting up a little over an hour earlier each day in order to go on a prayer walk around our church and its neighborhood.  I will bathe this block in prayer.  I will focus 1 hour everyday to both praise for what God has done for us as a church and guidance for what is next.  I will pray for families in and around this church. For businesses on the block and the people that work in them.

Fast: In order to carve out time, I will skip a few meals in order to use that time to simply pray.

Write: I’m not the best writer but I enjoy it and I will be writing out some of my prayers. I will be basically writing a letter to god everyday.

Abide: I will use the smartphone app Abide everyday to help focus and guide my prayers.
If you don’t have abide I recommend you download it and give it a shot.  It really helps me focus and keep my mind on God as I pray.  It gently reminds us that a wandering mind is normal and helps rein me back in. You can check out more about abide including download links on their website here.

I’d love to hear some ways that you are going to adjust to this new 40 day prayer challenge.
Feel free to email me at alan@lifepointlebanon.com or leave comments below. 

Pray 10k is not a sprint, its a marathon. There will be days you don't hit your goal. There will be days that you are down and feel far from God finding it hard to pray.  On those days reach out to someone. Share your wins and your loses.  Most importantly remember it's ok to miss your mark. You pledged an amount of minutes or hours and if it takes you more than 40 days that is ok. God is not in a hurry. We are celebrating the commitment not the deadline.

It’s not to late to pledge either. You can fill out a card at anytime here at LifePoint and start your journey.  Lives are going to change because of this and you can be part of it.  Even if its 10 minutes a day more than you usually pray that is 7 hours of sincere prayer over the next 40 days.


Lets do this as a family.


Alan