Welcome to Season 1 Episode 27 of the Your Church Matters podcast. I am recording and scheduling this episode in advance because of an upcoming “guy trip” with my boys (my favorite son and my favorite son-in-law). We will be on the road when this publishes.
In this episode, I am sharing a recording of my keynote address at the National Day of Prayer Luncheon in my hometown of Azle, TX on May 7, 2015. I believe it is a message for all churches and I saved the recording especially for use during this vacation time.
Keith Getty (In Christ Alone) quoted Tim Keller (Redeemer Presbyterian, NYC) … every generation has had struggles, disappointments, difficulties, even persecution … The difference is that we are the most narcissistic generation in history.
Why do we need a National Day of Prayer? To call us to refocus … If we do not guard against it, our narcissism will allow this day to be turned into something that is about our desires and benefit rather than God’s purposes … So I want to engage in a game of “What if” and ask 4 questions that hopefully can help us focus beyond ourselves.
1. What if we had less politics and more prayer?
- Prayer changes things … What it changes most is the one who is praying … Aligns our hearts with the heart of God … Reminds us that God does not take sides, He is a side.
- “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
- I am not opposed to the political process … I am opposed to the idea that we can transform our culture by political means … I am opposed to the idea of a “Christianized” culture that truly only results in “culturized” Christians … Should the goal of our prayers be that things change so we can “have it our way” or that God will glorify Himself in the way we respond when we don’t have it our way?
- One of the reasons I am asking questions today is based on a profound truth: I don’t have all the answers … I am a recovering “answer man” … In fact, if we had the time today, I’d rather ask my questions and facilitate a time of group processing that allows us to learn from each other and draws out the great wisdom and vision that is present in this room.
- There is a certain smugness that accompanies those who think it is their job to do all the talking and none of the listening and it is particularly unattractive when they speak on God’s behalf.
- “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7)
- The old adage is true: they do not care how much we know until they know how much we care.
- “We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions— but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.” (1 Corinthians 8:2-3, Msg)
- “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” ( John 17:20-21)
- “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
- One of the most powerful witnesses we give as a deterrent to the gospel is a fractured church … Our labels are virtually meaningless to the uninitiated … Sometimes the most powerful witness we have as a faith community is when we do something together and the only label is one of unity … We have legitimate differences … But most of those should be “in house” discussions … When we carry those into the street and encourage people to choose which one of us to follow, we actually run the risk of discouraging them from following Jesus … I believe, with all that is within me, if we will focus on the kingdom of God and the exaltation of Jesus, He will take care of our individual congregations.
- My favorite New Testament metaphor for the church is the Body of Christ … The visible representation of Jesus in the world … Our individual congregations cannot be the body in isolation from one another.
- We have increasingly become a culture of whiners who are known for what what are against … And in a our narcissism, we think the world is interested our whining so we share it on social media
- Lord, help us to see the world through the eyes of Jesus.
- “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38)