Thursday, February 21, 2019

Why We Worry After We Pray

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

The words are concise. 
Don’t worry.
Peace will protect.  
But you still worry.
Anxiety resurfaces.
Fear threatens.

1. God doesn’t answer my prayer immediately, so I doubt His power. 
‘God is omnipotent, He can do anything. He hasn’t responded to my request yet, maybe He isn’t almighty after all.’
Martha had a similar complaint. “She said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  Our version- “Jesus, if only you had answered sooner, I wouldn’t be in the mess I’m in. Life would be better.” 
God always has a greater purpose in mind.  We want a ‘healing,’ God may be planning something like a resurrection.
How should I respond when I think God is waiting too long?
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 
(See also Jeremiah 32:17-27)

2. God doesn’t answer my prayer the way I want, so I doubt His wisdom. 
‘God is omniscient, He knows everything. He didn’t give me what I asked for, maybe He is not all-wise after all.’
 What if God always gave us what we wanted?  “And they craved intensely in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert. So he gave to them their request, but he sent leanness into their souls.” Psalm 106: 14-15   
It is because God does know everything that He doesn’t give us we want. He uses our request to show us things we never thought about before but need to know in our current situation.
"Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it, the LORD is His name, 'Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.Jeremiah 33:2-3 
How should I respond when I don’t get what I ask for? “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.Proverbs 3:5-6 
 (See also 1 Corinthians 2:6-16)

3. I don’t believe God will answer and I doubt His love, so I don’t ask for help.  
‘I know the Bible says Jesus loves me, but I have cast my burden on Him before and He never seemed to pick it up.’
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”               2 Corinthians 12:8-10 
God does not love us the way we think He should.  He loves us the way we need to be loved.  The Good Shepherd teaches us that His rod and staff comfort us.  Hard times should drive us into the loving arms of God.
(See also Ephesians 3:14-21)

These three factors are serious obstacles to peace which is the great object of our prayer.  But maybe we miss the point.  What does Philippians 4:6-7 say about how our requests are answered?  Read the verses again. 
Did you see that peace is not promised with the fulfillment of our request but simply by the offering of our prayer? Let your request be made known . . . and the peace of God will guard your mind.  When we attach stipulations, about God’s timing and choices and love, we create expectations that distract us from God’s agenda.  That is why our worry returns, anxiety resurfaces, and fear threatens.
Let your requests be made known to God, be still and wait.  Peace will come.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Scrappy Church By Thom Rainer, A Review

“We see about seven of ten churches losing ground. Declining, and frustrated.  We see about 7000 North American churches closing their doors every year. We see infighting, conflicts, and contentious business meetings. We see strained budgets, strained attitudes, and strained relationships.”  Churches that recognize these problems often become scrappy churches.  “Scrappy churches don’t see limitations, they see possibilities.”
Scrappy churches are tenacious.  Cue Rocky Balboa running with little strength left but doggedly determined to achieve his purpose. 
Thom Rainer offers this book as motivation and encouragement to show what God is doing with feisty churches in places where most have given up. 
He has succeeded.
With illustrated clarity, he reminds doubting churches that God put their church at that address for a purpose. God has given your church all the resources you need to move forward. Four distinct characteristics are the current in which these resources flow.
Rainer draws from years of research experience to illustrate the pattern these churches follow.  It is a continuous cycle from Outward Deluge to Welcome Readiness to Backdoor Closure to Outward Deluge, etc.
Most of the book describes how an outpouring of outward activity, a ready welcome and closing the backdoor foster unity and restore growth in churches that are losing ground.
If you are looking to lead The Next Scrappy Church, chapter 6, be a leader who loves your church, your church members, your community, and other churches in your community.
Scrappy Church provides hope and direction for churches who are wondering if there is any hope or direction.

Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Publishing through the B&H/Lifeway Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.